The African Union condemned Denmark’s recently passed Aliens Act, which provides for Denmark to relocate asylum seekers to countries outside the European Union while their cases are being processed.
“This law effectively externalizes and exports the asylum process beyond the borders of Demark. Denmark has decided to send applications for international protection outside its borders; which amounts to responsibility and burden shifting,” an AU press release said Monday.
The legislation, which was approved on June 3, is the latest anti-migration measure passed by the Danish parliament and aims to discourage migrants from ever setting foot in the country.
Under the law, Denmark would be able to transfer asylum seekers to detention centers in partnering countries, potentially outside Europe. Their cases would then be reviewed from those countries.
The United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR, had also warned against "exporting" the asylum process, saying "such practices undermine the rights of those seeking safety and protection, demonize and punish them and may put their lives at risk.”
Voicing concern over the controversial law, the African Union reminded Denmark of its responsibility towards international protection for persons in need of that protection as provided for in the 1951 UN Convention on refugees, to which Denmark is a state party.
“Africa has a lot to show to the world as it continues to generously shoulder the burden of the world’s 85% of the refugees, often in protracted situations, whereas only 15% are hosted by developed countries.
“In addition, the African Union notes with great concern attempts and proposals to establish similar arrangements in Africa through bilateral arrangements, which is worrying and unacceptable,” it said.
“The African Union perceives such attempts as an extension of the borders of such countries and an extension of their control to the African shores. Such attempts to stem out migration from Africa to Europe is xenophobic and completely unacceptable.”
Denmark’s Aliens Act, according to the AU statement, would allow Denmark to abdicate its international responsibility to provide asylum and protection to those entering its territory.
It said: “We call on all State Parties to the 1951 UN Convention to remain true and faithful to their commitment and obligations to the international asylum system and encourage them to protect the asylum space and stop intolerance and shunning of responsibility especially over migrants and asylum seekers from outside Europe.”/aa