Danish police have seized valuables from migrants for the first time since introducing a controversial new law aimed at making the country a less attractive destination for asylum seekers.
National police spokesman Per Fiig said that two men and three women were carying dollars and euros worth 129,600 kroner (£14,400).
The cash was sezied and they were all arrested at Copenhagen’s airport for using forged passports.
The group, aged between 26 and 35 then all immediately sought asylum in Denmark.
The new law sees refugees and other migrants forced to hand over valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (£1,100), which is intended to help cover their housing and food costs.
The measures were passed by an overwhelming majority with the main centre-left opposition Social Democrats voting in favour as Denmark’s political landscape shifts to the right thanks to the popularity of anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party.
However, the new law has been severely criticised by the United Nations as well as international media, where the measures have been compared to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Denmark had previously been seen as more of a thoroughfare, with many migrants and refugees passing through on their way to Sweden.
However, in December last year, the Swedish government introduced a cap on migrants and mandatory ID-checks on its borders, meaning more people have stayed in Denmark.
Lawmakers in Copenhagen hope the bill will reduce the influx of migrants and help new arrivals of refugee status.
However, wedding rings and other items of sentimental value will be exempt.
The Danish government has defended the request that asylum seekers sell valuables and offer up cash, as the same rules apply for all Danish citizens who wish to qualify for social benefits.
‘We are saying that if you want to come to Europe you should stay clear of Denmark,’ said Martin Henriksen, a spokesman for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party.
The new bill will also makes it harder for family members left behind to join asylum seekers in Denmark once they have been granted residency – even if they are refugees.
Being a refugee – fleeing war but not individual prosecution – will not longer qualify for the highest form of protection status under Danish law, and they will have to wait three years instead of one year before applying for family reunifications.
Once the application has been filed, the process can take years, and refugees would have to pay the transportation costs of family members they bring to the country.
The waiting time has prompted allegations that Denmark will violate the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the UN Refugee Convention.
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