The media storm over the past few weeks about 7-year-old Im Nielsen and her mother culminated yesterday when a parliamentary majority agreed to pass an amendment, which will allow the two to return to Denmark.
Im and her mother, who are ethnic Thais, had their residence permits rescinded following the death of the mother’s Danish husband and stepfather to Im.
The Danish Save the Children Fund, however, says that instead of reacting to a single case, politicians should address the entire Immigration Law.
“There are masses of cases of children who have tragically been expelled from Denmark without addressing their overall rights and welfare. It's just not on,” Save the Children Fund Secretary-General Mimi Jacobsen says in a news release.
According to family reunion cases that Berlingske has studied, some 1,043 children under the age of 12 were refused permission to live with one or both of their parents in Denmark between 2005 and 2010.
Although Jacobsen is happy that Im Nielsen and her mother are to be allowed to return to Denmark, she sees the way in which it has been achieved as hypocrisy and simply vote-fishing.
“I can’t help feeling frustrated with politicians who stood in line to create such a draconian, inhuman and anti-child immigration law and who now fall for a pretty little girl – as we all do - who speaks with a Jutland accent,” Jacobsen tells TV2 News.
Mimi Jacobsen is herself a former politician, minister and MP, and former leader of the now defunct Centre Democrat Party.
“Obviously the family has been in an unfortunate situation – but there are also others who are in the same situation. And all the inhumanity behind it – that children are not allowed to be with their parents. Not only is it inhuman, it is also a serious breach of children’s rights,” she says.
Amnesty International is also lukewarm at the idea of a special law. The organisation’s legal consultant Claus Juul tells Berlingske that the expulsion of Im Nielsen and her mother took place in keeping with the rules.
“We may not like the decision, but given the way that the law has been put together, it is a correct decision. So if people think it’s a shame for a little girl that she has been expelled, it’s the rules that need to be changed,” Juul says.
Juul gives examples of other children such as unaccompanied ones who are given temporary residence permits in Denmark but are then expelled when they reach their 18th birthday.
“That must be a difficult state of affairs if you don’t have a network in the home country,” he says.
The Documentation and Advice Centre on Racial Discrimination, which offers pro bono legal help on, among other issues, family reunion cases, says that Danes have become used to ‘double rhetoric’ as far as immigration is concerned.
Centre Head and Lawyer Niels-Erik Hansen tells Berlingske that since 2000, the European Court of Human Rights has twice found Denmark guilty of a breach of human rights in cases of refusing children residence permits.
One of the cases involved a Danish-Somali girl whose family reunion with her parents and four siblings in Denmark was refused as it was felt that she had more of an attachment to a sick, paternal grandmother living in a refugee camp in Kenya.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood