A group of protesters has dumped jewellery outside the Danish Embassy in London in protest against a controversial new law allowing police in Denmark to seize valuables from refugees to fund their stay. Members of Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) descended on the embassy in Kensington today (28 January 2016), just two days after the Danish Parliament voted in favour of seizing valuables from those seeking asylum.
Danish citizen Morten Thaysen of the LGSMigrants said: "If Denmark needs it so badly, they can have our jewellery as long as they stop stealing [it] from refugees. Denmark is one of the richest countries in the world, and there can be no doubt that this new law is not about economy, but about scapegoating migrants."
The law would allow police to seize cash and items over the value of 10,000 Kroner (£1,024, €1,340, $1,452), with the exception of sentimental possessions such as wedding rings, and is part of a package of measures intended to deter refugees from entering Denmark.
Members of LGSMigrants also drew parallels with the treatment of migrants and the horrors of the Holocaust, which saw the Nazis steal gold and other valuables from Jewish people. Donna Riddington from LGSMigrants said: "Just this week it was revealed that asylum seekers in the UK were forced to wear red wristbands, and now the Danish government wants to rip jewellery off refugees. We're already horrified by the treatment of migrants across Europe, but Denmark is stooping to a new low. Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. Have we learned nothing?"
The new law also extended the amount of time refugees must wait to be reunited with their families from one to three years.
It has received heavy criticism from Human Rights charities and campaigners, with the UN Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) senior regional strategic communications and advocacy officer, Zoran Stevanovic, telling IBTimes UK earlier in the week: "[The] UNHCR is concerned by the decision to give the Danish police the authority to search and confiscate valuables from asylum-seekers.
"Seizing assets from asylum-seekers is sending damaging messages and runs the risk of fuelling sentiments of fear and discrimination rather than promoting solidarity with individuals in need of protection."