Danish law is no way to treat refugees…

SO where is Birgitte Nyborg when you need her? Nyborg was the prime minister in the Danish TV series Borgen – and, just to throw in a personal thought here, the sexiest politician who ever lived.

Much of the time in this superlative political drama from the makers of The Killing was spent knitting together unlikely political alliances, with Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) frowning at the eye of every storm.

So what would Nyborg make of Denmark’s decision to approve a plan to seize assets from refugees? Surely she would be appalled.

The biggest migration crisis in Europe since the Second World War is raising seemingly insoluble difficulties – but enacting a law that allows police to seize assets from refugees is a step too far.

Under this heartless new measure, Danish police can now search asylum seekers on arrival in the country and confiscate what are seen as non-essential items worth more than 10,000 krone (£1,000) that have no sentimental value to their owner.

Desperate people who have sailed and trudged from godforsaken places will have their pockets emptied by Danish police officers so their belongings can be assessed for economic and sentimental value.

Wow! Denmark you really have played a blinder there. Perhaps you would like asylum seekers to sing a song too and be judged by a gruesome X-Factor-style panel.

Denmark’s centre-right government justifies this procedure on the grounds that it covers the cost of each asylum seeker’s treatment by the state, and echoes the way Danish citizens on welfare are treated.

Sorry Denmark, this is a terrible idea, cruel and demeaning. The good and bad aspects of a country have to be balanced. So here is Denmark’s rough guide: good marks for butter and TV dramas; poor marks for bacon and treatment of asylum seekers.

Perhaps we should hear what a real Danish female politician has to say. Here is Pernille Skipper, owner of the coolest name around and a member of parliament for Enhedslisten, a left-wing Danish party: “Morally, it is a horrible way to treat people fleeing mass crimes, war, rapes. They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery.”

Quite so. As a man of a sometimes obvious cast of mind, I just searched for Skipper on Google. Do the same and you will discover that she just as glamorous as her fictional counterpart, as well as being a woman of sound good sense too.

Asylum seekers arriving in Denmark will still in general be treated humanely, but the nasty-minded new law that should worry us all.

This Danish move comes as central European leaders discuss plans to seal the borders of the Balkans. Now on a basic level it is easy to see why countries might wish to protect their borders. But sealing off the Balkans could well trap thousands of poor asylum seekers in Greece, a country weighed down with many domestic difficulties.

This is Europe’s problem so Europe should find an answer; this is the world’s problem so the world should find an answer. Just blocking the doors and saying that refugees should stay in the country where they first land is selfish and impractical.

This solution appeals to some of our own right-wing politicians, yet we cannot leave Greece to solve this problem alone.

But here’s an interesting thing. Reports at the weekend suggest Greek islanders could be nominated for the Nobel peace prize for their humanitarian efforts in helping asylum seekers on the frontline of the refugee crisis.

What a fantastic idea. Those Greek islanders who have helped people at the point of desperation remind us that humanity can rise above race, creed and nationality. Something the small-minded Danish government might remember.borgen_season1

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