Kingdom of Denmark
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 10 March 2013
5,543,453 (July 2012 est.)
Prime Minister since 3 October 2011
The monarchy is hereditary
Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or
the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime
minister by the monarch: elections: last held 13 November 2007
Next scheduled election: 2011
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, Somali
Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Christian (includes Protestant and Roman Catholic) 3%, Muslim 2%
Constitutional monarchy with 5 regions (regioner, singular - region); Legal system is a civil law system; judicial review of legislative
acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Executive: The monarch is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority
coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch
Legislative: Unicameral People's Assembly or Folketinget (179 seats, including 2 from Greenland and 2 from the Faroe Islands;
members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 15 September 2011 (next to be held by September 2015)
Judicial: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the monarch for life)
Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), German (small minority)
note: English is the predominant second language
People lived in the area of present-day Denmark more than 100,000 years ago, but probably had to leave because of the ice-cap
that covered the land during the period of the Weichsel glaciation (ca 70,000BC to ca 12,000 BC). Traces of permanent human
habitation in Denmark cover the period since around 12,000 BC. Agriculture made inroads around 3,000 BC. During the Pre-
Roman Iron Age (from the 4th to the 1st century BC), the climate in Denmark and southern Scandinavia became cooler and wetter,
limiting agriculture and setting the stage for native groups to migrate southward into Germania. The Roman provinces, whose
frontiers stopped short of Denmark, nevertheless maintained trade-routes and relations with Danish peoples, as attested by finds of
Roman coins. The earliest known runic inscription dates back to c. 200. Depletion of cultivated land in the last century BC seems to
have contributed to increasing migrations in northern Europe and increasing conflict of Teutonic tribes with Roman settlements in
Gaul. Roman artifacts occur especially commonly in finds from the first century. It seems clear that some part of the Danish warrior-
aristocracy served in the Roman army. Historians refer to the material culture of northern Europe during the mass-migrations of the
5th-7th centuries as the Germanic Iron Age. Among the most well-known remains from the period are the "peat bog corpses",
among those the well-preserved bodies of two people deliberately strangled, Tollund Man and Haraldskær Woman. Widsith and
Beowulf and works by later Scandinavian writers, notably by Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) provide some of the earliest descriptions
of Danish culture. Much remains mythical and legendary. Like Homer an earlier culture is described imperfectly from a later
perspective. However, they may contain some historical facts. People who became known as Vikings inhabited much of Denmark
for several hundred years from the 8th to the 11th centuries. They had a more complicated social structure than most previous
societies to inhabit the areas and became famous for raiding and trading throughout the rest of Europe. During the Viking period,
Denmark operated as a great power based on the Jutland Peninsula, the island of Zealand, and the southern part of present-day
Sweden. In the early 11th century, King Canute united Denmark and England for almost 30 years. Various petty kingdoms existed
throughout the area now known as Denmark for many years. Around 980 Harold Bluetooth appears to have established a unified
kingdom of Denmark. Around the same time, he received a visit from a German missionary who, according to legend, survived an
ordeal by fire, which convinced Harold to convert to Christianity. The new religion, which replaced the old Norse mythology, had
many advantages for the king. Christianity brought with it some support from the Holy Roman Empire. It also allowed the king to
dismiss many of his opponents who were adherents to the old mythology. After the death of Canute the Great in 1035, England
broke away from Danish control and Denmark fell into disarray for some time. Vikings from Norway raided Denmark sporadically.
Canute's nephew Sweyn Estridson (1020–1074) re-established strong royal authority and built a good relationship with the
Archbishop of Bremen — at that time the Archbishop of all of Scandinavia. In the early 12th century Denmark became the seat of
an independent church province of Scandinavia. Not long after that, Sweden and Norway formed their own archbishoprics, free of
Danish control. The mid 12th century proved a difficult time for the kingdom of Denmark. Civil wars rocked the land and created
much strife. Eventually, Valdemar the Great (1131-82), gained control of the kingdom, stabilizing it and reorganizing the
administration. He and Bishop Absalon rebuilt the country. During Valdemar's reign, a castle was built in the village of Havn, leading
eventually to the foundation of Copenhagen, the modern capital of Denmark. The kings of Denmark had difficulty maintaining their
control of the kingdom in the face of opposition from the nobility and from the Church. There was an extended period of strained
relations between the crown and the Popes of Rome known as the "archiepiscopal conflicts". By the late 13th century, royal power
had waned, and the nobility forced the king to grant a charter, considered Denmark's first constitution. In the aftermath of Sweden's
definitive secession from the Kalmar Union in 1521, civil war and Protestant Reformation followed in Denmark and Norway. When
things settled down, the Privy Council of Denmark had lost some of its influence, and that of Norway no longer existed. The two
kingdoms were joined in personal union, known as Denmark-Norway. Norway kept its separate laws and some institutions, such
as a royal chancellor, and separate coinage and army. Being a hereditary kingdom, Norway's status as separate from Denmark was
important to the royal dynasty in its struggle to win elections as kings of Denmark. The two kingdoms remained tied until 1814. The
Reformation, which originated in Germany from the ideas of Martin Luther, had a strong impact on Denmark; today the national
Church of Denmark remains Lutheran. The Danish Reformation started in 1536. As elsewhere in Europe, the spread of
Protestantism was made possible by the powerful combination of popular enthusiasm for the reform of the church and the
enthusiasm of the government for the opportunity for increased independence from Rome. Denmark grew wealthy during the
sixteenth century, largely because of the increased traffic through the Øresund which Danes could tax because Denmark controlled
both sides of the Sound. The Thirty Years' War went badly for the Protestant states in the early 1620s, and Denmark was called on
to "save the Protestant cause". Embarrassingly for Christian IV, the Danish military intervention in Germany was a fiasco; worse still,
Sweden later intervened with greater success. After his death, Denmark waged another disastrous war against Sweden. An
abnormally cold winter allowed Swedish troops of Charles X Gustav of Sweden to cross the frozen Great Belt and march towards
Copenhagen, forcing Denmark to conclude a hasty peace-settlement to avoid the storming of Copenhagen. As a result of the
disaster in the war against Sweden, King Frederick III (reigned 1648-1670) succeeded in convincing the nobles to give up some of
their powers and their exemption from taxes, leading to the era of absolutism in Denmark. Denmark became the model of
enlightened despotism. Between 1784 and 1815, the abolition of serfdom made the majority of the peasants landowners. Free
trade, and universal education was also introduced. The expenses and losses of the Napoleonic wars shattered Denmark's
previously robust economy. The British fleet attacked Copenhagen in 1801 (Battle of Copenhagen (1801)), which led to Denmark
allying with the French. In 1807 the British fleet bombarded Copenhagen again, which caused considerable civilian hardship. The
Danish liberal and national movements gained momentum in the 1830s, and after the European revolutions of 1848 Denmark
became a constitutional monarchy on June 5, 1849. The Scandinavian Monetary Union, a monetary union formed by Sweden and
Denmark on May 5, 1873, fixed their currencies against gold at par to each other. The outbreak of World War I, in 1914 brought
an end to the monetary union. Denmark remained neutral during World War I, but the conflict affected the country to a considerable
extent. Denmark declared its neutrality at the beginning of World War II and signed a non-aggression agreement with Nazi
Germany. Nevertheless Germany invaded Denmark in (Operation Weserübung) on April 9, 1940 and occupied it until May 5,
1945. In 1948 Denmark granted home rule to the Faroe Islands. 1953 saw further political reform in Denmark, abolishing the
Landsting (the elected upper house), colonial status for Greenland and allowing the female right of succession to the throne with the
signing of a new constitution. After the war, with the perceived threat posed by the USSR and the lessons of World War II still
fresh in Danish minds, the country abandoned its policy of neutrality. Denmark became a charter-member of the United Nations in
1945 and one of the original members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 1949 (though Denmark had originally tried to
form an alliance only with Norway and Sweden). A Nordic Council was later set up to coordinate Nordic policy. Later, in a
referendum in 1972, Danes voted yes to joining the European Community, the predecessor of the European Union, and became a
member 1 January 1973. Since then, Denmark has been a hesitant member of the European community, opting out of many
proposals, including the Euro which was rejected in a referendum in 2000. In the Council of State on 8 October 2003, Queen
Margrethe gave her consent to the marriage of Crown Prince Frederik to Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, an Australian marketing
consultant whom the prince met when he was attending the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The wedding took place on 14 May 2004 at
Copenhagen Cathedral, Copenhagen. In December 2005 The Jyllands-Posten newspaper published a series of 12 cartoons
showing Muhammad, in one of which he appeared to have a bomb in his turban which spark protests and riots in Denmark and
throughout the Muslim world. In early 2006 these riots escalated to the burning of Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut. This
prompted Denmark to evacuate its embassies throughout the Muslim world. In 2009 Denmark hosted an international climate
change conference which sparksed protests and the arrests of over 900 protesters. In September 2011 Denmark's centre-left party
won the country's general election, ending nearly a decade in opposition and the election of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the nations first
female prime minister who likewise appointed a female deputy prime minister, Margrethe Vestager.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Denmark
This thoroughly modern market economy features a high-tech agricultural sector, state-of-the-art industry with world-leading firms
in pharmaceuticals, maritime shipping and renewable energy, and a high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a member of the
European Union (EU); Danish legislation and regulations conform to EU standards on almost all issues. Danes enjoy a high standard
of living and the Danish economy is characterized by extensive government welfare measures and an equitable distribution of
income. Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and enjoys a comfortable balance of payments surplus but depends on
imports of raw materials for the manufacturing sector. Within the EU, Denmark is among the strongest supporters of trade
liberalization. After a long consumption-driven upswing, Denmark's economy began slowing in 2007 with the end of a housing
boom. Housing prices dropped markedly in 2008-09 and, following a short respite in 2010, has since continued to decline. The
global financial crisis has exacerbated this cyclical slowdown through increased borrowing costs and lower export demand,
consumer confidence, and investment. The global financial crises cut Danish real GDP in 2008-09. Denmark made a modest
recovery in 2010 with real GDP growth of 1.3%, in part because of increased government spending; however, the country
experienced a technical recession in late 2010-early 2011. Historically low levels of unemployment rose sharply with the recession
and have remained at about 6% in 2010-12, based on the national measure, about two-thirds average EU unemployment. An
impending decline in the ratio of workers to retirees will be a major long-term issue. Denmark maintained a healthy budget surplus
for many years up to 2008, but the budget balance swung into deficit in 2009. In spite of the deficits, the new coalition government
delivered a modest stimulus to the economy in 2012. Nonetheless, Denmark's fiscal position remains among the strongest in the EU
with public debt at about 45% of GDP in 2012. Despite previously meeting the criteria to join the European Economic and
Monetary Union (EMU), so far Denmark has decided not to join, although the Danish krone remains pegged to the euro. Denmark
held the EU presidency during the first half of 2012; priorities included promoting a responsible, dynamic, green, and safe Europe,
while working to steer Europe out of its euro zone economic crisis.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Denmark)
Today the Sovereign has an essentially ceremonial role restricted in exercise of power by convention and public opinion. However
the monarch does continue to exercise three essential rights: the right to be consulted, the right to advise and the right to warn. As a
consequence of these ideals, the Prime Minister and Cabinet attends the regular meeting of the Council of State.
However, the real powers of position of the monarch in the Danish constitution should not be downplayed. The Monarch does
indeed retain some power, but it has to be used with discretion. She fulfils the necessary constitutional role as head of state, and acts
as a final check on executive power. If a time came to pass, for instance, when a law threatened the freedom or security of her
subjects, the queen could decline Royal Assent, free as she is from the eddies of party politics and prosecution.
The Government performs the executive functions of the Kingdom. In appointing the Prime Minister, the Monarch consults the will
of the people, represented by parliamentary leaders, in determining who should hold the office. As always, the person who has the
broadest support from the members of parliament is chosen by the Monarch and confirmed by a vote of confidence by the
Folketing. However, before the parliamentary confirmation, the Prime Minister-elect together with the leaders of his coalition
partners selects the other Ministers which make up the Governments and acts as political heads of the various government
departments. Cabinet members are occasionally recruited from outside the Folketing.
The Folketing performs the legislative functions of the Kingdom. As a parliament, it is at the centre of the political system in
Denmark and is the supreme and ultimate legislative body answerable to no one. The Prime Minister and the Government in general
draws from it, as well as being answerable to it. The Folketing has since 1953 been unicameral. The Danish parliamentary election
of 2011 took place on 15 September 2011 in order to elect the 179 members of the Danish parliament. Of those 179, 175
members were elected in Denmark, two in the Faroe Islands and two in Greenland. The incumbent centre-right coalition led by
Venstre lost power to a centre-left coalition led by the Social Democrats making Helle Thorning-Schmidt the country's first female
Prime Minister. The Social Liberal Party and the Socialist People's Party became part of the three-party government. The new
parliament convened on 4 October, the first Tuesday of the month.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Denmark
Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm; Faroese
continue to study proposals for full independence; sovereignty dispute with Canada over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel
between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Denmark
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
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 majority party or coalition, is head of government and presides over the cabinet, which is accountable
to a unicameral parliament (Folketing). Elections on September 15, which observers deemed free and fair, gave a plurality to a left-of-
center coalition led by the Social Democratic Party. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
There were no widespread or systemic human rights abuses during the year.
There were some continuing human rights problems. Authorities often held pretrial detainees together with convicted criminals, and there
were instances in which they held youth offenders together with adults. Authorities prosecuted, and courts convicted, several individuals
for violating laws restricting speech that was judged discriminatory based on race, religion, or other grounds. Nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) criticized the government for returning asylum seekers to Iraq. There continued to be occasional reports of
societal religious and ethnic discrimination against minority groups, domestic violence against women, wage discrimination against
women, and trafficking in persons.
In cases where officials committed abuses, the government took steps to prosecute those responsible
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4 February 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child:
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report as well as the written replies to its list of issues
(CRC/C/DNK/Q/4/Add.1) and appreciates the constructive dialogue with the State party’s multi-sectoral delegation. However, the
Committee notes that the fourth periodic report of the State party does not conform to the reporting guidelines (CRC/C/58/Rev.2) on the
Convention and urges the State party to submit its subsequent periodic reports in accordance with the guidelines mentioned.
B. Follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
4. The Committee notes with appreciation the adoption of:
(a) The Child’s Reform (Barnets Reform) of 2010 which entered into force on 1 January 2011, and entails amendments to the Act
on Social Services, to better serve the best interests of the child in the handling of cases involving special support for disadvantaged
children and young people as well as strengthens the right of the National Social Appeals Board (Ankestyrelsen) to take up cases at its
own initiative, when a child is at risk;
(b) The Act on Parental Responsibility, which entered into force in October 2007;
(c) The Care Placement Reform Act No. 1442 of 22 December 2004 which entered into force on 1 January 2006, and aims to
improve standards of care for children in alternative care settings.
C. Main areas of concern and recommendations
1. General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6 of the Convention)
The Committee’s previous recommendations
6. The Committee welcomes efforts by the State party to implement the concluding observations of the Committee adopted in
September 2005 (CRC/C/DNK/CO/3) following the consideration of the third periodic report of the State party. Nevertheless, the
Committee regrets that some of its concerns and recommendations have been insufficiently or not addressed.
7. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to address those recommendations from the concluding
observations on the third report that have not yet been implemented or sufficiently implemented, including those related to legislation,
coordination, national plan of action, dissemination, data collection and alternative care.
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Freedom In The World 2012 Report
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Parliamentary elections in September 2011 resulted in Helle Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the Social Democratic Party, becoming
Denmark’s first female prime minster, ousting Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s center-right coalition. Thorning-Schmidt formed a governing
coalition with the Social Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party.
Parliamentary elections in September 2011 led to a change of government, with Helle Thorning-Schmidt leading the Social Democratic
Party to power after forming a coalition with the Social Liberal Party, the Socialist People’s Party, and the Red-Green Party. Although
Thorning-Schmidt’s coalition was able to narrowly defeat Rasmussen’s center-right coalition, the Social Democratic Party itself suffered
its worst electoral result since 1903 and won fewer seats in Parliament than Rasmussen’s Liberal Party. As a result of the election,
Thorning-Schmidt became Denmark’s first female prime minister. The new government faces internal divisions on issues such as
welfare reform and early retirement benefits; it also inherited the weakest economy in Scandinavia.
In 2009, two men were arrested in Chicago in connection with a plot to bomb the offices of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which had
printed controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2005. One of those arrested, Pakistani American David Headley, pleaded
guilty in 2010 to planning the attack, as well as participating in the planning of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. In September
2011, his accomplice, Tahawur Rana, was found guilty of planning to attack Jyllands-Posten, but had not been sentenced by year’s end.
The cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who had drawn the most contentious of the Muhammad cartoons, was attacked in his home in
January 2010 by a Somali assailant wielding an axe and a knife. Westergaard escaped unharmed, and the intruder, Mohamed Geele, was
apprehended by police. Geele, who was believed to have ties to the Shabaab, an Islamist militant group based in Somalia, was sentenced
in June 2011 to nine years in prison.
In September 2011, a small bomb exploded in a hotel in central Copenhagen, causing little material damage but injuring the alleged
bomber. Danish police apprehended the suspect, Chechen national Lors Dukajev, several hours later. He was found guilty of carrying out
a terrorist attack and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The intended target was Jyllands-Posten, particularly its former editor, Flemming
Rose, who commissioned the cartoons.
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22 October 2012
Copenhagen ‘Principles’ on military detainees undermine human rights
You may be forgiven for not having heard of the Copenhagen ‘Principles’.
They have after all been reached in quasi-secrecy during a five-year process behind closed doors.
Yet they refer to something of international importance – the handling of detainees in international military operations.
On 20 October 2012, the Denmark’s Foreign Ministry of Denmark announced that a group of two dozen states meeting in private in
Copenhagen had adopted the “principles and guidelines”.
They come after Denmark deliberately convened discussions outside of any established international organisation in order to retain the
ability to exclude certain states and civil society including organisations such as Amnesty International.
The content of discussions was only revealed when Amnesty International and a handful of other civil society organisations were invited
to a brief meeting with Danish authorities on the morning of 16 October, less than 48 hours before the final (and once again confidential)
meeting of states was to begin.
The lack of meaningful consultation is particularly surprising given the global scope and fundamental importance of the very real
challenges that the Copenhagen Process purports to address.
Imagine that troops from a European country enter a house in Afghanistan and bring a man they suspect of associating with the Taliban
back to their base, where they keep him against his will for several days.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) finds out and arrives at the base asking that the detainee be handed over to them.
But the NDS is known routinely to torture such detainees, and transferring a person to a risk of such abuse clearly violates absolute
obligations under international law.
Imagine a request is also received from a US special operations commander who says this person is of interest to them and they would
like to “borrow” him, holding him incommunicado for a few weeks or months of interrogation in a secret location.
The situation being described sounds a lot like an enforced disappearance which, like torture, is absolutely prohibited by international law.
Situations like this have arisen frequently and can throw into stark relief the fact that different states in joint operations can be subject to
different sets of treaty obligations.
Interpretations of obligations can vary even under the same treaty.
States generally aim to maximize their ability to cooperate and to minimize the cost and complication of their own operations - human
rights concerns appear to have come to be seen by some states as a pesky and unnecessary irritant.
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UN Report Highlights Abuse as ‘Drug Treatment’
UN Expert Says Donors Should Stop Funding Drug Detention Centers
March 3, 2013
(Geneva) –A United Nations report about torture and other abuses in healthcare settings points to the need for donors to withdraw funds
to compulsory drug detention centers, Human Rights Watch and Harm Reduction International said today.
The report was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 4, 2013, by the special rapporteur on torture, Juan
Mendez. It says that people identified as drug users are held without due process in government-run detention centers where they face
serious abuse – including physical and sexual violence and forced labor – all in the name of “rehabilitation.” Human Rights Watch has
done extensive research on the subject in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and Lao PDR, and Harm Reduction International has also reported
on donor support to centers in these countries.
In June, for example, the US Government pledged $400,000 to support the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision
to “upgrade” facilities at Somsanga Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, adding to a decade of support by the US, the UN, and other
Past US funds have paid for the construction of fences surrounding the center, and of dormitories to expand the capacity of the
government to detain drug users, street children, and ethnic minorities. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report documented brutal violence
and other serious abuse of adults and children at Somsanga.
Australia and EU countries have also contributed money to support the operation of drug detention centers. According to a 2012 report
by Harm Reduction International, Australia, Luxembourg, and Sweden contributed more than a million USD for a multi-year UNODC
project on “capacity building” for drug detention center staff in Vietnam, a country where drug users are subjected to forced labor and
held in “punishment rooms” using torture techniques.
“The idea that these abusive drug detention facilities offer education or rehabilitation is absurd, since people are forced to work in the
service of private companies, starved if they miss their work quotas, and tortured for disobeying the rules or attempting to escape,” said
Rick Lines, Harm Reduction International executive director. “Donors would not tolerate this at home.”
Mendez’s report comes at a time when there is increasing scrutiny of international aid spent on drug control in countries with extremely
poor human rights records. Donors such as Denmark continue to fund drug enforcement in Iran, for example, despite widespread
executions, including public hangings, of people captured in drug cases in recent years.
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Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s Opening Address to the Folketing (The Danish Parliament) on
Tuesday 2 October 2012
We must bring Denmark safely through the crisis.
This has been this Government’s most important task since we came into office one year ago. And it remains our most important task.
It requires action in areas that were previously neglected. It requires action instead of doing nothing. It requires cooperation. And it
requires a new direction for Denmark.
In Denmark we have a strong sense of community and solidarity.
Where the broadest shoulders bear the heaviest burdens.
Where those who are struck by illness have access to treatment.
Where those who lose their jobs are helped.
Where education is the most important way towards progress and development.
This is what is so special and fantastic about Denmark. It is this sense of community and solidarity that we have built up generation after
generation. Community and solidarity that pervade Danish society.
But it could crack if the economic crisis is allowed to take its course unchecked.
It could crumble if we fail to invest in education and jobs.
It could disintegrate if we, each and everyone one of us, do not do what we can.
Our safe and secure Denmark cannot be taken for granted. It is our task to bring our community and solidarity safely through the crisis.
The ones who need our care and concern most of all are children who have experienced neglect and abuse.
But in recent years, we have seen examples of children who have far from received the help and support they should have.
These are tragic cases, and I am sure that they have affected us all.
How could this happen?
Why was action not taken to intervene?
Why have measures not been taken to remedy the situation; a situation that has had tragic consequences for the children concerned?
We must do better here.
Therefore, the Government will launch a totally new initiative to help vulnerable children.
We will make it a requirement that no cases regarding children are put in a pile of other cases. Any instance where concern is expressed
for the safety of a child – for example as a result of violence or abuse – must be assessed within 24 hours.
We will make it a requirement that the municipality must speak with the child concerned when there is suspicion of abuse.
Let me be absolutely clear: Children placed in care must never be sent back alone to the person suspected of having abused them. Never.
It should go without saying. Nevertheless, this still happens.
With this comprehensive initiative, we will improve the help provided to vulnerable children. In particular children who are subjected to
abuse. This is the first step in the Government’s new policy.
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TRANSLATED FROM DANISH BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
Annual Report of the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman 2011
Copenhagen, September 2012
Jørgen Steen Sørensen
In the coming years, the Ombudsman institution is facing a number of important issues:
One issue relates to the resources available to the public administration. Recently, both central and local authorities have experienced
considerable cuts, and nothing suggests that this will change for some time. In the coming years, it will therefore be a very important
task for the administration to prioritise and administer effectively so that the resource situation does not affect core services more than
absolutely necessary. Here, the Ombudsman can be said to have a double task.
On the one hand, it is important that the Ombudsman does not, for instance, impose greater demands on formalities in the administration’
s case processing than is warranted with reasonable certainty by legislation or the principles of good administrative practice.
As well known, the same money cannot be spent twice, and if it is spent on process and formalities, it cannot also be spent on the core
service. Here, the Ombudsman must be aware of the resource-related consequences of the demands he imposes on the administration.
On the other hand, the Ombudsman has an equally important task in monitoring that the core service is actually provided to the extent
stipulated by legislation and, not least, with the necessary speed. Here, it is not the Ombudsman’s task to help the authorities, in a way
quite the contrary. The Ombudsman must help to ensure that citizens get the services to which they are entitled and make the authorities
be open, to the relevant extent, about any reductions of their service level within the legislative framework. Ultimately, a potential
fundamental tension between the available resources and citizens’ entitlements according to the rules has to be resolved by the legislature
and not by either the administration or the Ombudsman.
In addition, the number of complaints lodged with the Ombudsman has been steadily increasing for many years. Today, he receives
approx. 5,000 per year. The individual complainant usually has a quite natural expectation that his or her case will be subjected to an in-
depth investigation, and preferably by the Ombudsman himself. At the same time, it is an important task for the Ombudsman not only to
consider complaint cases, but also to take up cases for investigation on his own initiative where there is reason for doing so (irrespective
of whether they turn out to afford grounds for criticism or not). Equally important are the inspections, where the Ombudsman visits
institutions for the most vulnerable groups in society, such as prisons, psychiatric wards and residential institutions for children and
young people, with a view to checking, among other things, whether the relevant persons are treated in accordance with the law and
ordinary humanitarian standards. These activities are already taking up significant resources and they will be further expanded in the
autumn when a special children’s office will presumably be established in the Ombudsman institution. Finally, the Ombudsman also has
other special tasks, such as monitoring deportations of foreigners from Denmark.
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Fighting Homophobia in Schools
[03-02-2013]The project It Takes All Kinds puts discrimination and homophobia on the agenda in schools all over Europe.
written by Evguenia Klementieva and Mikkel Schmidt-Hansen, project managers.
The end of 2012 brought with it the conclusion of the project “It takes all kinds” (ITAK) - a project which aims to provide materials for
addressing and tackling homophobia in schools. It was conducted by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in cooperation with leading
LGBT organizations in nine countries throughout Europe.
The main outcome of the project is three websites, each localized to the languages of the participating countries: one for teachers, one
for students and one for LGBT organizations.
The teacher website provides inspiration materials and guides for teachers and school management who wish to take up the fight against
discrimination and homophobia in their schools. The student website focusses on the same issues, but has a more interactive and playful
approach to the matter, and also provides students with tools to take action against discrimination. Finally, the site for LGBT
organizations provides a restricted access forum, in which members of the organizations can communicate and share their experiences
with each other.
A human rights approach to LGBT issues
Throughout the project, we saw that the brand of the Institute and the use of human rights as an entry point opened doors for
discussions of human rights for LGBT persons, in contexts where such discussions would usually be difficult. In many of the
participating Eastern and Central European countries, local authorities were usually less willing to engage directly with LGBT
organizations, but were eager to engage in a dialogue on human rights once a National Human Rights Institution from Denmark got
For instance in Poland, the project personnel met with the vice minister of education. According to our Polish partner, a meeting of such
caliber would not have been possible had the LGBT organization approached the Ministry on its own. This meeting was not only used to
engage the Ministry in support of our joint project, but also allowed for our Polish partners to address other urgent local matters
regarding human rights for LGBT persons.
Addressing sexual and gender diversity in schools from a broader human rights perspective can be useful in Western European countries
as well. In a school in Ireland, the students expressed a degree of weariness at the prospect of talking about gay rights yet again: “Yes,
yes – we’ve got the message!”
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Queen since 14 January 1972
Crown Prince Frederik
Heir Apparent since 26 May 1968
Deputy Prime Minister since 3 October 2011