5 March 2021

AMIS-event: "Danish desires to export asylum responsibility to camps outside Europe: a research-based discussion"

On Friday 26 February 2021, the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies hosted a very well-visited research seminar in order to discuss the Socialdemocratic government´s legislative proposal concerning the closure of asylum processing and refugees´ legal stay on Danish territory, and instead externalize this to still unnamed non-European countries´ territory.

At the time of the seminar, the proposal was still in the hearing-process, and the explicit aim of AMIS was to provide high-quality, research-based input and impact to the many civil society and public stakeholders working on hearing replies, during this phase of the legislative proposal. To this end four researchers had been invited to reflect upon the proposal based on their different geographic and disciplinary expertises.

First, Dr. Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, associate professor at AMIS, talked about the proposal´s different components, and related it as one recent variant of a decade-long desire among Northern European policy and buraucratic networks to remove asylum obligations from European territory. Lemberg-Pedersen then explained the recent evolution of the proposal, and the justifications and criticisms it has faced.

Second, Ahlam Chemlali, Ph.D. student at Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), turned the perspective from Denmark and to North Africa often referred to as potential host by the Danish government. Focusing particularly on Morocco and Tunisia, Chemlali explained how European externalization continues to lead to the acceptance of poor governance and illegal border practices, and also related how authorities and smugglers are often inseparable, and feed into the life-threatening conditions for migrants, long before they reach the Mediterranean.

Third, Dr. Zachary Whyte, associate professor at AMIS, used three examples of different camps in the current Danish asylum system to reflect upon the legislation´s possible impact. Prime among Whyte´s concerns was the way in which the proposal would seeming tear apart the link between the asylum and the integration processes, and, by blocking refugees´ residence permits, effectively hinder access in Denmark to the latter, save for a few legally required exceptions.

Fourth, Dr. Nik Feith Tan, senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), compared the proposal to international practice, and then focused on third country processing standards with particular reference to the Australian practice, often referred to as inspirational by Danish actors, as well as recent US practice in Guatemala. Tan concluded that the proposal faced grave risks to asylum seekers, of non-compliance, as well as to both Denmarks international reputation, and the international refugee system.

The event took place on zoom, with an extremely high turnout. Among the public actors watching were: Representatives from several Danish political parties, and from the Danish, Norwegian, Greek, Belgian and Spanish ministries, the Latvian Ombudsman Office, as well as secretaries for MEPs from the European Parliament. Among non-state stakeholders attendees included representatives from Globalt Fokus, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, Danish Institute of Human Rights, Save the Children, Refugees Welcome Denmark, Danish Red Cross, Danish Refugee Council, Dignity, IOM, ICMPD, the African Migration and Development Policy Centre, Amnesty International, Council of Europe - Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees, EuroMed Rights - Brussels Office, and the UNHCR. There were also media representatives from Danish news outlets such as Politiken, Information, Danish Broadcasting Company, P1 Radio, Weekendavisen, as well as Al Jazeera and several freelance journalists. From academia, attendees included scholars from institutions such as Sciences Po, Oxford, Brookings Institute, Lund, Zaragoza Strathmore, University College London, Auckland, Bristol, Warszaw, Warwick, Lauvain, Trento, Oslo Metropolitan, and many many more.

A warm thanks to all presenters and participants at the event!

A seminar report will be published within soon, including all four presentations, at www.amis.ku.dk

Read more about the event in our calendar:
AMIS seminar - Danish desires to export asylum responsibility to camps outside Europe: A research-based discussion – University of Copenhagen

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen in Politiken 22 February 2021
Ekspert: Regeringens asylforslag er ekstremistisk og dybt uansvarligt

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen in DR P1 Orientering 2 March 2021
Orientering 2 March (at 00:17:39)