Geneva – Denmark's discriminatory measures against minorities in ghettos fuel xenophobia, racial prejudice, and intolerance against vulnerable groups, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and the Youth Parliament said in a joint oral statement on Thursday at the Human Rights Council 49th session.
The statement warned of the dire effects of the punitive and discriminatory measures introduced by the Danish government in 2018 against the population in public housing areas it classifies as "ghettos", which already suffer from various social problems.
The joint statement referred to the discriminatory criteria set by the Danish authorities to classify a region as a "ghetto", such as half of its residents being from non-Western backgrounds, including children who were born in Denmark, but they are the descendants of non-Western immigrants.
The Danish government extorts families in those areas by threatening to cut their social welfare allocations—which these families depend on to survive—to force them to send their children, as young as one-year-olds, to kindergartens (with a maximum migrant intake of 30%) "to learn Danish values" for 25 hours a week, excluding nap time, the statement said.
The statement added that the stated goal of this policy is to forcibly assimilate these children rather than integrate them into Danish society, by giving them compulsory instructions on "Danish values" and Danish language as a mother tongue. On the other hand, citizens of Denmark not residing in "ghettos" can choose whether to enroll their children in daycare or preschool up to the age of six.
While these policies violate the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union law with regard to non-discrimination and equality rights, they also sow fear, insecurity, and lack of trust among the groups they target, the statement said.
In February 2022, Euro-Med Monitor released a policy brief addressing "ghetto" laws contribution to fueling xenophobia, racial prejudice, and intolerance against vulnerable minorities through their flawed and discriminatory standards targeting individuals of non-European races. We called on the Danish government to stop all disproportionate, discriminatory, punitive measures against "ghetto" residents and encourage integrating rather than forcibly assimilating them.
The full statement:
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and the Youth Parliament for SDGs are gravely concerned about the traumatic impact of Denmark’s so called “Ghetto laws” on children and families of vulnerable minorities.
In 2018, the Danish government introduced punitive and discriminatory measures against socially vulnerable and underprivileged public housing areas it considers as “Ghettoes.” One of the criteria for designating an area a Ghetto is that half of its residents come from “non-Western backgrounds.” This includes Danish-born children and grandchildren of so called “non-western” migrants.
The Danish government has been using welfare benefits that venerable families in those areas depend on for basic survival as leverage to coerce them into sending their “Ghetto children” from the age of 1 to compulsory daycares and kindergartens to spend at least 25 hours per week, excluding nap time.
This policy’s stated goal is to coercively assimilate rather than integrate those children into Danish society, by giving them mandatory instructions in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, as well as learn the Danish language as a mother tongue. Meanwhile, non-Ghetto residents in Denmark can choose whether to enroll their kids in daycare or preschool up to the age of six.
We caution that such discriminatory policies contribute to fueling xenophobia, racial prejudice and intolerance against vulnerable minorities. They sow fear, insecurity, mistrust and resistance amongst the groups they target, and they stand in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law vis-à-vis the rights to non-discrimination and equality.