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Home >> Members >> Members’ Publications >> Danish Institute for Human Rights’ Annual Report 2016

Danish Institute for Human Rights’ Annual Report 2016

May 23rd 2017

The Danish Institute for Human Rights’ (DIHR) annual report to the Danish Parliament has been released. The report provides a status of the human rights situation in Denmark as well as highlighting some of the results they have achieved through their international work. DIHR also acts as the national equality body for matters of racial and ethnic origin and for gender issues. In addition, they have a special role in the disability area, where they promote and monitor implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Overview

The report offers an overview of the most important improvements and setbacks for human rights in Denmark. It also provides a brief insight into their research and international work and the important knowledge that they gain through cooperation projects with local National Human Rights Institutions and authorities, as well as in international fora.

Once again, human rights were high on the Danish political agenda in 2016. The DIHR voiced their most severe criticism for many years in relation to the Danish Government’s tightening of rules concerning immigrants and asylum-seekers. They have criticised that asylum-seekers can only apply for family reunification after three years, that young couples were prevented from living together at asylum centres, and that new and stricter rules aim at making life intolerable for people on ‘tolerated stay’.

In spite of the heated debate and many negative – and sometimes even wrong – statements about human rights, it is positive that politicians and the population are taking an active stance on human rights. One of the tasks of the DIHR is to contribute to maintaining focus on human rights. Their role is to ensure the legitimacy of human rights and promote support for them.

Content

The following topics are included in the report:

  • Judiciary: There is still a problematic focus on detention and more use of force.
  • Religion: Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are under pressure.
  • Refugees: In November 2015, the Danish Government presented 34 initiatives to tighten regulations in the immigration area. One in particular triggered a sharp reaction from the institute. As Jonas Christoffersen, Executive Director, stated: “We are talking about children who have to wait three years before they can pass into safety and be reunited with their mother or father. Three years is an unreasonably long time in a child’s life.”
  • Foreigners: In June 2016, the Minister of Immigration and Integration stated that tolerated-stay conditions should be as ‘intolerable as possible’. In short, there is a significant risk of ill-treatment of rejected asylum seekers.
  • Disability: 2017 is a year of victory for persons with disabilities. For many years now, Denmark has been the only Nordic country without a general ban against discrimination on the grounds of disability. For instance, persons with disabilities have had to put with not having equal access to insurance, homes, education, or healthcare. In mid-February 2017, following a communication campaign on disability by the DIHR, the Danish Minister of Social Affairs announced that the Government plans to introduce a general ban against discrimination on the grounds of disability. Read more here.
  • Social affairs: Challenges remain for the most vulnerable members of society. There are more people without a home and a ceiling on social benefits has led to more poverty. On the other hand: the number of evictions of tenants fell in 2016 for the fifth consecutive year. Also, persons under guardianship have been granted voting rights at municipal and regional elections. However, they have not gained the right to vote at parliamentary elections.
  • Gender: Sexism and hate speech online. The DIHR took the initiative to establish a new network comprising Nordic equality bodies and ombudsman agencies. The task of the network is to clarify the extent of online sexism and hate
    speech, and ensure exchange of knowledge and experience across Nordic countries.
  • Ethnicity: What does it mean to be Danish, and when can you call yourself a Dane? These and other questions were the subject of heated debate in 2016.
  • Education: In 2016, the DIHR mapped human rights education for public sector professionals. According to Cecilia Decara, Team Leader: “Social workers must exercise professional judgement, based on relevant human rights competences in their areas of public administration and care taking. Ensuring that staff have these competences is of vital importance.”

Read more on the Danish Institute for Human Rights’ website.

Other Publications

The DIHR zoomed in on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals and on understanding the relationship between human rights and economic growth. According to Hans-Otto Sano, Research Director: “It is interesting to note that human rights exert a positive influence on economic growth in some regions, but more interesting still is the fact that the particular human rights we focussed on in our analysis did not exert any negative effect on economic growth. Thus, the argument that some societies simply cannot afford to observe human rights has been proven to be quite erroneous.” The reports on this topic can be found here.

In 2016, the DIHR prepared the status report of the human rights situation in Denmark. In the 2016/17 edition, the publication provides a current overview of the most important human rights challenges facing Denmark. This status report is a summary of 22 individual thematic reports, each of which describes recent developments and offers recommendations such as children, ethnic origin, asylum, disability, gender equality, religion, fair trial, and the elderly.