The Kingdom of Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with democratic, parliamentary rule. Queen Margrethe II is head of state. A prime minister, usually the leader of the largest party of a multiparty coalition, is head of government and presides over the cabinet, which is accountable to a unicameral parliament (Folketing). The kingdom includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are autonomous with similar political structures and legal rights. They manage most of their domestic affairs, while the central Danish government is responsible for constitutional matters, citizenship, monetary and currency matters, foreign relations, and defense and security policy. Observers deemed national elections in June 2019 to be free and fair, and in the same month the center-left Social Democratic Party formed a single-party minority government headed by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
The National Police maintain internal security and, jointly with the Danish Immigration Service, is responsible for border enforcement at the country’s ports of entry. The Ministry of Justice oversees both services. The Armed Forces report to the Ministry of Defense and have responsibility for external security in addition to some domestic security responsibilities, such as disaster response and maritime sovereignty enforcement. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the National Police, the Danish Immigration Service, and the Armed Forces. There were some reports that members of the security forces committed abuses.
There were no reports of significant human rights abuses.
The government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. The Ministry of Justice investigates killings by the security forces.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were some reports government officials employed them. On January 7, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published the report of its visit to the country in April 2019. It reported a few isolated allegations of excessive use of force, such as the person having been violently pushed to the ground or tightly handcuffed, and of threatening behavior by police officers, for example, officers pointing a firearm at the head of the person at the time of apprehension. It also received “a few allegations of excessive use of force by prison staff and prison transport officers, and of verbal abuse by prison staff.” At the Ellebaek Prison and Probation Establishment for Asylum Seekers and Others Deprived of their Liberty, the delegation received one allegation of excessive use of force and several allegations of verbal abuse by staff, including racist remarks.
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) reported an increased use of force in prisons. It also noted an exponential increase in the use of prolonged solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure against convicted prisoners over the previous five years–705 instances of more than 14 days in 2019, compared with seven instances in 2015.
In February the DIHR criticized the use of prolonged physical restraint in psychiatric facilities finding that the use of physical restraint for over one hour had no legal basis. The DIHR report highlighted 163 “long-term” detentions that lasted between one and four hours in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics were available. The Danish Psychiatric Association also found instances of detentions that extended over six hours.
In July a public nursing home in Aarhus municipality was criticized after hidden surveillance videos of residents receiving degrading treatment were published and circulated in the media. The surveillance showed the residents living in poor hygienic conditions and subject to verbal abuse from workers. Although government and police officials told news outlets this treatment was unacceptable, authorities took no official action regarding this case.
Impunity was not a significant problem in the security forces.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.
Physical Conditions: The law prohibits authorities from holding minors in solitary confinement for more than seven days; restricts authorities’ ability to detain adults with youths between the ages of 15 and 17; and allows minors to receive education while detained. Authorities continued to hold convicted prisoners together with pretrial detainees in remand institutions.
In its January 7 report, the CPT stated that prisoners complained about access to the toilet (both during the day and at night) at the Copenhagen Police Headquarters Prison and at the Odense Remand Prison. In the Copenhagen City Police Station, the Nykobing Falster Police Station, and the Odense Police Headquarters, it observed a lack of access to natural light and insufficient artificial lighting in the cells. In addition, ventilation was poor in the cells of the Nykobing Falster Police Station.
The Ellebaek prison, operated by the Prison and Probation Service, held 117 rejected asylum seekers who were considered flight risks but had not committed other crimes. The CPT report deemed both the prison and the Nykobing Falster Holding Center as unsuitable for residents. The head of the CPT delegation stated that residents were kept in prison-like conditions with poor sanitary conditions. The report described harsh punishments, including 15 days of solitary confinement, for possessing a mobile telephone. The report also noted that detained migrants at risk of suicide sometimes were placed naked in an observation room to prevent their tearing their clothing to make a noose.
Administration: Authorities conducted investigations of credible allegations of mistreatment.
Independent Monitoring: The parliamentary ombudsman also functioned as a prison ombudsman. The government permitted additional monitoring visits by independent human rights observers and the media. The CPT, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other independent nongovernmental organization (NGO) observers regularly received access to police headquarters, prisons, establishments for the detention of minors, asylum centers, and other detention facilities. On January 7, the CPT published its report of its visit in April 2019.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court. The government generally observed these requirements.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
The law allows police both to begin investigations and to make arrests on their own initiative based upon observed evidence or to enforce a court order following an indictment filed with the courts by public prosecutors.
The law mandates that citizens and documented migrants taken into custody appear before a judge within 24 hours. The judge may extend police custody for a further 72 hours. In contrast to citizens and documented migrants, authorities may hold irregular migrants up to 72 hours before bringing them before a judge or releasing them. In all cases the law requires police to make every effort to limit detention time after arrest to fewer than 12 hours. A migrant generally is classified as irregular when the individual does not have the required authorization or documents for legal immigration. During the 72-hour holding period, the National Police, the Danish Center against Human Trafficking, and antitrafficking NGOs, if needed, can review an irregular migrant’s case to determine whether the migrant is a victim of human trafficking. In addition, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration can suspend the requirement for a 72-hour case review if the volume of asylum requests exceeds the ability of the government to complete reviews within 72 hours. Authorities can extend detention beyond 72 hours to conduct additional research in cases where the migrant’s country of origin or identity cannot be positively verified.
According to the CPT, police may administratively detain a person who endangers public order, the safety of individuals, or public security for a period not exceeding six hours or, in the context of public gatherings and crowds, 12 hours.
Authorities generally respected the right of detainees to a prompt judicial determination and informed them promptly of charges against them. There is no bail system; judges decide either to release detainees on their own recognizance or to keep them in detention until trial. A judge may authorize detention prior to trial only when authorities charge the detainee with a violation that could result in a prison sentence of more than 18 months or when the judge determines the detainee would seek to impede the investigation of the case, be a flight risk, or be likely to commit a new offense. The standard period of pretrial custody is up to four weeks, but a court order may further extend custody in four-week increments.
Arrested persons have the right to unsupervised visits with an attorney from the time police bring them to a police station. The CPT alleged questioning of detainees often began immediately upon arrest and during transport to the police station. Police frequently delayed access to an attorney until the accused appeared in court for a remand hearing. Several detained persons complained to the CPT that the first time they had met a lawyer was in court, a few minutes before the application of remand custody was being decided. The CPT reported that a number of detained persons had not been informed of their right of access to a lawyer or that their requests to contact a lawyer and have him or her present during police questioning had been ignored. Moreover, detained persons’ requests to see a lawyer and the action taken by police in response to such requests were not recorded systematically.
The government provides counsel for those who cannot afford legal representation. Detainees have the right to inform their next of kin of their arrest, although authorities may deny this right if information about the detention could compromise the police investigation. Detainees have the right to medical treatment, and authorities generally respected this right. Police may deny other forms of visitation, subject to a court appeal but generally did not do so. Fewer detainees were sent to isolation than in previous years, but the practice was still used as a method of punishment.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.
The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.
Defendants enjoy the right to a presumption of innocence; a prompt and detailed notification of the charges against them; a fair, timely, and public trial; to be present at their trial; to communicate with an attorney of their choice (or have one provided at public expense if unable to pay); to have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense; to have free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals; to confront prosecution or plaintiff witnesses and present their own witnesses and evidence; not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt; and to appeal their case.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Individuals or organizations may bring civil lawsuits seeking damages for a human rights violation. The complainant may also pursue an administrative resolution. The law provides that persons with “reasonable grounds” may appeal court decisions to the European Court of Human Rights if they involve alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, but only after they exhaust all avenues of appeal in national courts.
The government reports, and the Jewish Community confirms, that Holocaust-era restitution has not been an issue and that no litigation or restitution claims regarding real or immovable property covered by the Terezin Declaration, to which the government is signatory, were pending before authorities. The Department of State’s Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act report to Congress, released publicly on July 29, 2020, can be found on the Department’s website: https://www.state.gov/reports/just-act-report-to-congress/.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, but there were isolated reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
The law allows the government to gather airplane passengers’ personal data. The DIHR alleged that the Ministry of Justice failed to demonstrate the law complies with the European Court of Justice’s conditions for collecting passenger name record information. For example, access to oversight mechanisms on the use of personal data is limited to Danish citizens.
During the summer, more than 100 residents in Vollsmose, a suburb of Odense, the country’s third-largest city, filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Treatment Board after receiving eviction notices. The complaints alleged that the law’s ethnic criteria for neighborhoods classified as “ghettos” was directly discriminatory as it set limits on the number of residents from “non-Western backgrounds” who may live in an area in order for that area to avoid classification as a “ghetto.” Areas classified as “ghettos” are subject to increased police surveillance and higher punishments for crimes such as loitering.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Expression, Including for the Press
The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press.
Freedom of Speech: The law prohibits any public speech or the dissemination of statements or other pronouncements that threaten, deride, or degrade a group because of gender, race, skin color, national or ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation. Authorities may fine offenders or imprison them for up to two years. On June 2, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance reported that the police case file-processing system registers reported offenses of hate speech as well as their judicial outcomes. It is still not possible, however, to collect data of a more detailed character, such as category of offense, type of hate motivation, or target group, from the system.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored online communications without appropriate legal authority.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The constitution provides for the freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement
The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons
f. Protection of Refugees
The government did not participate with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in its program to resettle refugees.
Abuse of Migrants and Refugees, and Stateless Persons: The CPT reported a number of persons who were detained for the up to 72-hour period allowed by law complained that they were unable to consult a lawyer.
In September 2019 the government stated it would close the Sjaelsmark Departure Center, a facility run by the Danish Prison and Probation Service for rejected asylum seekers who cannot be returned to their country of origin. In November 2019 the government committed to remove all the children in the center and their parents from Sjaelsmark before April. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration delayed this move until August 25, when 48 families with all 89 children in the center were moved to the Avnstrup Departure Center.
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The government limits the rights of persons with subsidiary or temporary protection to family reunification, restrictions not applied to persons recognized as refugees. For example, persons with subsidiary or temporary protection must wait at least three years before applying for family reunification for their spouse or cohabitating partner and minor children. In contrast, persons with refugee status can apply for family reunification at any time.
Safe Country of Origin/Transit: The country employs the EU’s Dublin III regulation, which permits authorities to turn back or deport individuals who entered or attempted to enter the country through a “safe country of transit” or are registered in another Dublin regulation state.
Freedom of Movement: The law limits the initial period of immigration detention to six months, which can be extended to 18 months if special circumstances exist.
Access to Basic Services: The law allows municipalities to accommodate refugees only in temporary housing.
Durable Solutions: The government’s policy encourages repatriation of refugees rather than integration into society. The state provides financial assistance to refugees or asylum seekers who choose to return home. The state pays for their travel and provides a small sum of money to help them resettle in their homeland. The government provides similar financial incentives to nonrefugee or non-asylum-seeking residents who choose to return to their homelands. This policy decreases the likelihood of long-term residency permits for refugees and asylum seekers as it encourages repatriation over integration.
Temporary Protection: Through the end of September, the government provided temporary protection to 77 persons who did not qualify as refugees.
g. Stateless Persons
According to UNHCR, 8,672 stateless persons lived in the country at the end of 2019. Stateless persons can apply for citizenship if they have lived in the country for at least eight years.
Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
The constitution and laws provide citizens, including residents of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, the ability to choose their governments in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: Free and fair parliamentary elections in June 2019 led to the formation of a single-party minority government headed by Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen.
In August 2019 the Faroe Islands held free and fair parliamentary elections. The Union Party, the Danish People’s Party, and the Center Party comprise the new government headed by Premier Bardur a Steig Nielsen. Greenland’s parliamentary elections in 2018 were considered to be free and fair.
Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit the participation of women and members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
In June the Ministry of Defense implemented a number of anticorruption-focused measures to combat fraud and abuse of power following a series of high-profile cases in earlier years. Among the policies are additional protections for whistleblowers.
Financial Disclosure: Reporting of personal finances, including from positions with private and public companies, personal businesses, donors, foreign gifts, and past or future salaries is mandatory but not enforced. Government officials may not work on specific matters in which they, persons they represent, or persons with whom they have close relations have a personal or economic interest. Officials must inform their superiors of any possible conflicts of interest that might disqualify them.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights
A variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were cooperative and responsive to their views.
Government Human Rights Bodies: The parliamentary ombudsman investigated complaints regarding national and local public authorities and any decisions authorities made regarding the treatment of citizens and their cases. The parliamentary ombudsman can independently inspect prisons, detention centers, and psychiatric hospitals. A European ombudsman monitored the country’s compliance with EU basic rights, a consumers’ ombudsman investigated complaints related to discriminatory marketing, and two royal ombudsmen provided liaison between the Danish central government and those in the Faroe Islands and Greenland. These ombudsmen enjoyed the government’s cooperation, operated without government or political interference, and were considered effective.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape against women or men (the statute is gender neutral), including spousal rape and domestic violence. Rape is not defined by a lack of consent, but rather by whether physical violence, threat, or coercion is involved or if the victim is found to have been unable to resist. Penalties for rape include imprisonment for up to 12 years for aggravated circumstances and up to six years for domestic violence. The government effectively prosecuted persons accused of rape.
A 2020 report by the Crime Prevention Council, a network of crime prevention authorities and professionals, found that more than 6,700 persons were raped or subjected to attempted rape annually between 2008 and 2019. The study suggested that significant numbers of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. According to police, there were 1,662 reports of rape or attempted rape in 2019 of which 294 involved the abuse of children younger than the age 12. In 2019 there were 314 rape convictions.
Faroese law criminalizes rape with penalties up to 12 years’ imprisonment. The law considers nonconsensual sex with a victim in a “helpless state” to be sexual abuse rather than rape. In certain instances it also reduces the penalty for rape and sexual violence within marriage.
Greenlandic law criminalizes rape. The law does not provide a minimum sentencing for persons convicted of rape but does cap sentencing at 10 years. The law is applied equally regardless of the marital relationship of the offender and the victim. The law provides that sentencing be based on the severity of the case as well as an individual evaluation of the offender. Sentencing was typically between 12 and 18 months.
The government and NGOs operated 24-hour hotlines, counseling centers, and shelters for female survivors of violence throughout the country, including in Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The royal family supported a variety of NGOs working to improve conditions and services at shelters and to assist families afflicted with domestic violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides that authorities may order a perpetrator or an employer who allowed or failed to prevent an incident of harassment to pay monetary compensation to victims. The law considers sexual harassment an unsafe working condition and gives labor unions or the Equal Treatment Board the responsibility to resolve it (see also section 7.d.). The government enforced the law effectively.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to manage their reproductive health; and to have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. The government provides access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, labor, religious, personal status and nationality, property, inheritance, employment, access to credit, and owning and managing businesses and property laws. Little discrimination was reported in employment, ownership and management of businesses, or access to credit, education, or housing.
Birth Registration: Most children acquire citizenship from their parents. Stateless persons and certain persons born in the country to noncitizens may acquire citizenship by naturalization, provided, in most cases, that they apply for citizenship before their 21st birthday. The law requires medical practitioners to register promptly the births of children they deliver, and they generally did so.
Child Abuse: Child abuse is illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison. The National Police and Public Prosecutor’s Office actively investigated child abuse cases. According to police statistics, approximately 17 percent of total sexual offenses in Greenland were crimes of “sexual relations with individuals below the age of 15.”
In 2019 Greenlandic police received a record high of 83 reports of sexual assault against children. East Greenland has been recognized for its disproportionate record of sexual abuse. According to a Greenlandic police report in 2019, the town of Tasiilaq reported the highest number of sexual crimes against children and adolescents per year in Greenland. In 2018, 27 percent of Greenland’s sexual assaults against children younger than age 15 occurred in Tasiilaq, while the town accounted for fewer than 4 percent of Greenland’s population. In 2019 a Danish Radio (DR) documentary noted that in Tasiilaq, nearly half of adults younger than age 60 claimed to have experienced sexual abuse as children. During a mandatory COVID-19 lockdown in March and April, reports of sexual assault increased. To combat this, the Greenlandic government banned the sale of alcohol. The Danish Ministry of Social Affairs developed 16 recommendations to address children abuse. The recommendations include support by social workers for vulnerable families and the establishment of substance abuse centers. The Greenlandic government established community centers to provide at-risk children with a safe place to stay on weekends and paydays, when their parents or guardians were most likely to misuse alcohol.
The government’s Children’s Council monitors children’s rights and promotes children’s interests in legislative matters.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. Penalties for the distribution of child pornography include up to a six-year prison sentence. The government generally enforced these laws. The minimum age for consensual sexual activity is 15. The purchase of sexual services from a person younger than 18 is illegal.
The law in Greenland prohibits sexual relations with children younger than age 15; Greenlandic Police determine the penalties for perpetrators.
Displaced Children: The government considered unaccompanied minor refugees and migrants to be vulnerable, and the law includes special rules regarding them. A personal representative was appointed for all unaccompanied children who sought asylum or who stayed in the country without permission.
Institutionalized Children: The ombudsman noted in a 2018 report that the conditions for children at the Sjaelsmark departure center for irregular migrants were likely “to make their childhood substantially more difficult and to restrict their natural development.” In August the government moved all the children and their families to another departure center (see section 2.f.).
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
The Jewish Community in Denmark (Det Jodiske Samfund i Danmark) estimated between 6,000 and 8,000 Jews lived in the country, most in the Copenhagen area.
Representatives of the Jewish community reported 51 anti-Semitic acts against the Jewish community in 2019, 13 percent more than in the previous year. The acts included assault, physical harassment, threats, vandalism, and hate speech. During the year the government cooperated with the Jewish community to provide police protection for the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen as well as other locations of importance to the Jewish community. Jewish community leaders reported continued good relations with police and the ability to communicate their concerns to authorities, including the minister of justice.
On Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the Jewish calendar, the neo-Nazi organization Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) put up posters in 16 cities, including Copenhagen, accusing the Jewish community of pedophilia in connection to circumcision.
In September members of parliament reintroduced, for the third year in a row, a 2018 citizen proposal to ban ritual circumcision of boys younger than age 18. Prime Minister Frederiksen of the governing Social Democratic Party forcefully opposed the circumcision ban on September 11. Representatives of the Muslim and Jewish communities remained concerned about the proposal and its annual reemergence in parliamentary debates.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against and harassment of persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. It also mandates access by persons with disabilities to government buildings, education, employment, information, and communications. The government enforced these provisions.
The law provides for the right of free education for all children. The law provides that most children with disabilities be able to attend mainstream classes with nondisabled peers through secondary school.
The right of persons with disabilities to vote or participate in civic affairs was generally not restricted, but some persons with disabilities reported problems in connection with elections, including ballots that were not accessible to blind persons or persons with mental disabilities. The country maintained a system of guardianship for persons considered incapable of managing their own affairs due to psychosocial or mental disabilities. Persons under guardianship who do not possess legal capacity have the right to vote in local and regional elections as well as in elections to the European Parliament, but not in national elections.
Greenland employed a spokesperson to promote the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. According to media reports, persons with disabilities in Greenland continued to lack adequate access to physical aids, counselling, educated professionals, and appropriate housing. Many Greenlanders with disabilities had to be relocated to Denmark because of lack of support resources in Greenland.
Members of National/Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups
In June, two white men killed a black man on the island of Bornholm. One of the perpetrators, who were brothers, was a member of the far-right, anti-immigrant group Stram Kurs. According to the authorities, the victim was beaten with a wooden beam, stabbed multiple times including in the throat, and held down with a knee on his neck. NGOs and activists immediately called the killing a hate crime and organized Black Lives Matter demonstrations in protest. Authorities ruled out calling the murder a hate crime. Bente Pedersen Lund, the lead prosecutor in the case, insisted that the murder was based on a personal relationship between the three men and told the press that the motive “was not racist.” On December 1, both perpetrators were found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The Ministry of Transport, Building, and Housing continued to implement the government’s action plan for the elimination of “ghettos,” neighborhoods of majority non-Western immigrants, by 2030. The government defined “ghetto” as an area with more than 1,000 residents where the share of immigrants and their descendants from non-Western countries was more than 50 percent. Media widely interpreted “non-Western” to mean Muslim-majority communities. The law requires “ghetto” parents to send toddlers older than the age of one to government-funded daycare to be taught “Danish values,” including Christmas and Easter traditions. Authorities withheld quarterly benefits of up to 4,557 kroner ($716) from noncompliant parents. The law also requires neighborhoods that have been classified as “ghettos” for four years in a row to reduce the amount of public housing in the area by 40 percent. A neighborhood listed as a “ghetto” for four years in a row is classified as a “hard ghetto.” The law requires neighborhoods that have been classified as “hard ghettos” to reduce the amount of public housing in the area by 40 percent to qualify for a change in classification.
In August the public transportation company DSB received complaints after it ran a political advertisement for the Danish People’s Party that read “no to Islam, yes to Denmark.” The advertisement illustrated the mainstream current of anti-Muslim political sentiment and was present within the crossword puzzle of the transportation company’s magazine Ud & Se that was available on public trains. The DSB removed the advertisement after receiving a complaint from a train customer.
Residents of a public housing complex in Helsingor accused authorities of illegal discrimination after forcibly relocating 96 families. The residents believed they were evicted because of their ethnicity and challenged the removal in court. They argued they did not do anything wrong and that the eviction was discriminatory and based on ethnicity. Housing authorities stated the lease terminations were due to accessibility renovations in the building. Media reports suggested that the evictions might have been part of an effort to remove the complex from the government’s “hard ghetto” list.
The law protects the rights of the indigenous Inuit inhabitants of Greenland, who are Danish citizens and whose legal system seeks to accommodate their traditions. Through their elected internally autonomous government, they participated in decisions affecting their lands, culture, traditions, and the exploitation of energy, minerals, and other natural resources. Greenlanders also vote in national elections.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law affords individuals legal gender recognition, but government guidelines require that individuals undergoing transition receive hormone treatment at one of two designated government-run clinics; private physicians are not permitted to establish this course of treatment.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
On March 2, the DIHR found the city of Herning had unfairly discriminated against children from minority backgrounds when it divided its school system in two to separate Danish children from those of non-Danish origin. The municipal government subsequently acknowledged the discrimination against minority children.
Rasmus Paludan, lawyer and founder of the political party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), which cited in its platform “the unacceptable behavior exhibited by Muslims” and what it described as the need to deport all non-Western residents, continued to hold anti-Muslim rallies. In June a court found Paludan guilty of 14 counts of racism, defamation, and reckless driving. As a result Paludan was disbarred for three years, fined, and sentenced to one month of imprisonment; his driver’s license was suspended as well. Despite the court sentencing, Paludan continued to organize protests against Muslims and Quran-burning demonstrations throughout the year in Muslim-majority immigrant neighborhoods across the country, citing freedom of speech. At one demonstration in Aarhus in June, violence erupted after demonstrators threw stones and fireworks at police. One man broke down a police barrier and threatened police with a knife.
In August members of the rightist Nye Borgerlige political party criticized immigrants of Somali heritage and other minority groups after media reports indicated there were higher incidences of COVID-19 infection among certain ethnic minorities.
During the year representatives from the Muslim community reported discrimination against Muslims. Statistics from the Muslim community on anti-Islamic incidents were not available, but according to police figures, there were 110 religiously motivated hate crimes against Muslims in 2019. Representatives from the Muslim community reported that Muslims in the country lived with a sense of increased scrutiny from the government and society.
During the year authorities fined two persons under the law banning masks and face coverings, including burqas and niqabs. Violators face fines ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 kroner ($157 to $1,570). The maximum fine is for those who violate the law four or more times. In response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Justice provided guidance that the law does not apply to face coverings that serve specific health purposes and that masks worn to prevent the spread of coronavirus fall under this exemption.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law states all workers may form or join independent unions. The law provides for the right to collective bargaining and to legal strikes but does not provide nonresident foreign workers on Danish ships the right to participate in the country’s collective bargaining agreements. It allows unions to conduct their activities without interference, prohibits antiunion discrimination, and provides for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.
The government effectively enforced the law. Resources, inspections, and remediation including supporting regulations were adequate. Penalties were commensurate with similar violations. Breaches of collective agreement are typically referred to industrial arbitration tribunals to decide whether there was a breach. If the parties agree, the Labor Court may deal with cases that would otherwise be subject to industrial arbitration. The court determines penalties on the facts of the case and with due regard to the degree that the breach of agreement was excusable.
Employers and the government generally respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Annual collective bargaining agreements covered members of the workforce associated with unions and indirectly affected the wages and working conditions of nonunion employees.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, including by children, and the government effectively enforced this prohibition. The law prescribes penalties that were generally commensurate with those for similar crimes. Authorities identified 17 victims of forced labor in 2019 making up one-quarter of the overall number of trafficking victims. Men and women working in agriculture, cleaning, construction, factories, hospitality, restaurant, and trucking were most likely to face conditions of forced labor.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits all of the worst forms of child labor, and the government effectively enforced the law. The minimum legal age for full-time employment is 15. The law sets a minimum age of 13 for part-time employment and limits school-age children to less strenuous tasks. The law limits work hours and sets occupational health and safety restrictions for children, and the government effectively enforced these laws. Minors may not operate heavy machinery or handle toxic substances, including harsh detergents. Minors may only carry out “light work” that is the equivalent of lifting no more than 26.4 pounds from the ground and 52.8 pounds from waist height. For minors working in jobs where there is a higher risk of robbery, such as a snack bar, kiosk, bakery, or gas station, a coworker older than age 18 must always be present between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekends.
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
The law prohibits employment discrimination, and the government generally enforced these laws effectively. The law prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, skin color, or ethnic origin; gender; religion or faith; sexual orientation; national or social origin; political views; age; and disability. The law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on HIV/AIDS or refugee status. Penalties for violations include fines and imprisonment and are generally commensurate with those for similar violations.
Danish gender equality law does not apply to Greenland, but Greenland’s own law prohibits gender discrimination. Greenland has no antidiscrimination laws in employment, and Danish antidiscrimination laws do not apply to Greenland.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The law does not mandate a national minimum wage. Unions and employer associations negotiated minimum wages in collective bargaining agreements that were more than the estimate for the poverty income level. The law requires equal pay for equal work; migrant workers are entitled to the same minimum wages and working conditions as other workers.
Workers generally worked a 37.5-hour week established by contract rather than law. Workers received premium pay for overtime, and there was no compulsory overtime. Working hours are set by collective bargaining agreements and adhere to the EU directive that average workweeks not exceed 48 hours.
The law prescribes conditions of work, including appropriate safety and health standards, and authorities effectively enforced compliance with labor regulations. Minimum wage, hours of work, and occupational safety and health standards were enforced effectively in all sectors, including the informal economy. Penalties for safety and health violations, for both employees and employers, are commensurate with those for similar violations. The Danish Working Environment Authority (DWEA) under the Ministry of Employment may settle cases subject only to fines without trial.
The Ministry of Employment is responsible for the framework and rules regarding working conditions, health and safety, industrial injuries, financial support, and disability allowances. DWEA is responsible for enforcing health and safety rules and regulations. This is carried out through inspection visits as well as guidance to companies and their internal safety organizations. DWEA’s scope applies to all industrial sectors except for work carried out in the employer’s private household, exclusively by members of the employer’s family, and by military personnel. The Danish Energy Agency is responsible for supervision of offshore energy installations, the Maritime Authority is responsible for supervision of shipping, and the Civil Aviation Administration is responsible for supervision in the aviation sector.
DWEA has authority to report violations to police or the courts if an employer fails to make required improvements by the deadline set by DWEA. Court decisions regarding violations were released to the public and show past fines imposed against noncompliant companies or court-ordered reinstatement of employment. Greenland and the Faroe Islands have similar work conditions, except in both cases collective bargaining agreements set the standard workweek at 40 hours.
Workers can remove themselves from situations they believe endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in these situations. The same laws protect legal immigrants and foreign workers and apply equally to both categories of workers.
The number of labor inspectors is sufficient to enforce compliance. DWEA effectively enforced labor health and safety standards in all sectors, including enforcement of limiting the hours worked per week. Vulnerable groups generally include migrant and seasonal laborers, as well as young workers. These groups often work in the agricultural and service sectors. DWEA registered 15 individual workplace fatalities. An annual report from DWEA showed that in 2019 a total of 42,709 occupational accidents were reported (a number that has remained flat over the previous five years). According to the report, the most frequent injury was ankle sprains and other muscle injuries, which made up 42 percent of all reported occupational accidents in 2019.