DENMARK: Security for all Danes – A Serious threat to freedom of assembly

– Analysis by ECNL, published on 10/02/2021, accessible here

Following previous measures that claimed to address crime and insecurity in vulnerable residential areas, some of which attracted harsh criticism from human rights and community-based groups, the government submitted a new draft law referred to as the “Security for All Danes” Act to the Danish Parliament on 8 October 2020.

The introduction of what is referred to in the draft law as the “security-creating assembly ban” would seriously interfere with the right to freedom of assembly. It would allow the police to issue a ban on assembling in a specific place to which there is ordinary access (a park, square or road), at certain times of the day, for a period of up to 30 days. The police may renew this ban 30 days at a time.

ECNL is concerned that, in its current formulation, the draft law is not in line with international and European Union (EU) human rights standards and in particular:

  1. the conditions for the imposition of the ban would not meet the requirements of legality, in particular as regards the quality of the law in question, due to (i) the vague formulation and lack of precision of the conditions enabling the imposition of the ban and (ii) the broad legal discretion left to the executive and the lack of safeguards against arbitrary decisions;
  2. the ban would go beyond what is necessary to achieve the stated aims, considering (i) the non-compliance with the last resort principle, (ii) the risk of arbitrary applications and disproportionate impact on gatherings and (iii) the nature and severity of the penalties;
  3. the lack of quality of the draft provision in question, which is criminal in nature, would also cast doubts over the respect of the principle of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties;
  4. the implementation of the draft provision in question would be likely to give rise to indirect discrimination against particular groups of persons defined by reference to their gender, age as well as their race, ethnicity, language, national or social origin, or minority status;
  5. there is no clarity over the respect of the right to an effective remedy, as no reference is made to whether the police’s assessment as to the necessity of the ban, the existence of the conditions to issue it and the legality of the police’s related decision, including the respect of procedural rules as regards publication, would be open for judicial review.

Submitted to Parliament in October 2020, the government hopes to pass the draft law by July 2021.

Read the full analysis here