DENMARK: Organisations praise Parliament’s rejection of government’s ban on assemblies

– Unofficial translation of article by Amnesty International Denmark, originally published on 3 June, available here.


On 3 June, the Danish parliament adopted the government’s so-called Security Package, but at the same time a majority outside the government voted against the proposal for a general ban on assemblies. The rejection of the ban on assemblies is praised by Amnesty International, Globalt Fokus, Nyt Europa and Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, who have worked together through advocacy, legal analysis and public criticism to prevent an unnecessary restriction of Danes’ freedoms.

Under the heading “Security for all Danes”, the government presented a so-called security package in the autumn. One of its key elements was that the police would in future be able to impose a “security ban on all persons in a specific area where there is insecurity.”

In short, the law would no longer target only those citizens who were behind the so-called disorderly behaviour, but rather any citizen who might peacefully wish to stay in a particular area.

This restriction of Danish freedoms raised concerns among the organisations Amnesty International Denmark, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke, Nyt Europa and Globalt Fokus, which in February submitted a joint consultation response with a number of criticisms. In particular, the government’s draft law in its original wording would lead to unjustified cuts in the Danes’ right to freedom of movement, judicial guarantees, the right to privacy, the right to demonstrate peacefully and the right not to be discriminated against.

For the same reason, after today’s third reading of the bill in the Folketing, organisations are sending praise to the parties that brought the government into the minority on the proposal for a residence ban:

“Today we are happy for our rights and that a majority in Parliament listened to the criticism and voted down the government’s proposal for a residence ban that could affect anyone”, says Lisa Blinkenberg, Senior Advisor at Amnesty Denmark.

“Over the past months, we have seen that the government has not been as responsive as the other parties to the well-founded concerns of civil society. On the contrary, the Minister of Justice has shamefully attacked actors who have stood guard over the freedoms of Danes,” says Lisa Blinkenberg.


An alliance for freedoms

In addition to the consultation response, representatives of Amnesty Denmark, Global Focus, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke and New Europe have held meetings with a number of the Folketing’s political parties, and the organisations presented their concerns to the Folketing’s Committee on Legal Affairs and the public this spring.

And this work seems to have had an effect, the organisations are pleased to report today:
“There have been significant changes since the first reading of the security package. The residence ban was removed from the overall bill and it was also clarified that special consideration should be given to, for example, political gatherings and demonstrations,” says Lisa Blinkenberg, Senior Advisor at Amnesty Denmark.

She notes that several parties did not object to the residence ban at the first reading of the security package, but that a number of parties – including SF, Enhedslisten, Venstre, Dansk Folkeparti, Nye Borgerlige, Radikale Venstre at the second reading all made clear their criticism of the proposal in its original draft.

In the actual vote on 3 June, the proposal to implement a residence ban, which would affect even citizens who were peacefully assembling or wishing to stay in certain public areas, was voted down by 51 votes to 41.

“All in all, this is a relatively positive development and improvement that we have helped to bring about. However, we remain critical of the way parties like the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the New Liberals have blamed citizens of non-Danish origin for insecurity during the debate in Parliament,” says Lisa Blinkenberg, who has followed the legislative process in Parliament.