Former immigration minister 'misled' Danish parliament over 'illegal' asylum order

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By Euronews
Inger Støjberg served as the Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing from 2015 to 2019.
Inger Støjberg served as the Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing from 2015 to 2019.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Denmark's former immigration minister misled parliament over an order to separate certain married couples at asylum centres, an official inquiry has found.

Inger Støjberg gave "an incorrect or misleading description of the course of events," the Instrukskommission, or Directive Commission, has found.

The investigation relates to an illegal order issued by Støjberg in 2016 which separated 23 married couples if one was under the age of 18. In some cases, the couple had one or more children together.

The Danish parliament ombudsman later found that the order was illegal, as it did not allow authorities to individually assess or consult those affected. Støjberg faced a series of parliamentary hearings over the directive in 2017.

An inquiry is now examining whether the order violated Denmark's administrative laws as well as international obligations, such as the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The Commission has found that the description of the administration which took place in the immigration service based on the directive... was incorrect,” the commission summary stated on Monday.

"However, the Commission has not found sufficient basis to certify that Inger Støjberg, at the times she described this administration, was aware that the description was incorrect".

Støjberg was also criticised for giving a "misleading" account of the impact of the directive on affected refugees in Denmark.

The Danish parliament can decide to bring a case against Støjberg once the inquiry has been finalised.

"The Instruction Commission has today handed over its partial report to the Ministry of Justice," Nick Hækkerup, Denmark's Justice Minister, said in a statement.

"Out of respect for Parliament's further consideration of the interim report, I do not at present find it appropriate to comment further on the report's conclusions".

Støjberg, now the deputy leader of the opposition Venstre (Liberal) party has since defended her actions as an attempt to rescue child brides from forced marriages with older husbands.

On Monday, the former minister stated on Facebook that she had not issued any illegal order, but acknowledged there had been shortcomings.

"There have been mistakes in the case, I'm being criticised for that, and of course I'm taking in criticism," Støjberg said, "but that doesn't change the fact that I haven't placed an illegal order".