At least 150 people are estimated to have left Denmark for the Middle East to join the jihadist cause in recent years. Dozens of them are believed to linger on in the region, despite the effective crackdown on Daesh*.
Denmark’s immigration minister now has the right to revoke the passports of Danes who join foreign militant groups, and he only needs to inform the terrorists about the decision via the internet, the Danish newspaper Extra Bladet reported.
The law primarily targets individuals who have joined Daesh in Syria and Iraq and provides an opportunity for Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye to strip so-called “foreign fighters” of their citizenship without trial, while they still are in the conflict zone.
Jihadists stripped of their Danish passports will be given a four-week window to appeal the decision. However, due to a number of objections, a clause has been added that enables dispensation if the four-week deadline cannot be met.
“It will be viewed as being that if you can’t appeal on time, you will be able to exceed the four-week deadline and it will ultimately be a judge that decides whether it was out of your control to appeal by the deadline”, Tesfaye said.
The bill was supported by all right-wing parties representing the so-called “blue bloc”, as well as the governing Social Democrats. By contrast, junior left-of-centre parties, such as the Social Liberals, the Red-Green Alliance and The Alternative voted against it.
During the handling of the bill, an expiration date was added. In summer 2021, the parliament will vote to re-confirm the law. According to Tesfaye, the “sundown clause” was added to ensure a wider backing.
“We will then be in a situation where we can assess whether the law has worked. Perhaps there will be a need for a little adjustments,” he said.
The bill has other limitations as well and will only apply to joint nationals, so that no one becomes stateless.
At least 150 people have left the country for the Middle East to join the jihadists’ cause since 2012, according to an assessment by the Danish Police Intelligence Service’s (PET). At least 40 of them are believed to still be in the region, while about a third of the Danish jihadists are believed to have returned. Over a dozen have been indicted in Denmark so far.
Denmark’s Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen described these people as “those who have turned their backs on Denmark and violently fought against our democracy and freedom”, adding that they “pose a threat to security” and that their presence in Denmark was “undesirable”.