European rights body 'deeply concerned' at Danish migrant rule reforms

Security staff check people's identification at Kastrups train station outside Copenhagen, Denmark January 4, 2016. REUTERS/Nils Meilvang/Scanpix Denmark

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Europe’s human rights and democracy body said on Friday it was “deeply concerned” at proposed changes to Danish immigration laws that make it harder for migrants to stay in Denmark.

The proposals include using migrants’ valuables to pay for their stay, delaying family members joining migrants for three years, allowing detention in some cases and adding “integration potential” as a condition for accepting asylum claims.

Parliament is expected to vote on Jan. 26 on the proposals, which the United Nations has also criticized.

In a letter to Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, said, “I have repeatedly stressed that asylum seekers and immigrants should not be considered as criminals,” he wrote, in reference to proposals to detain migrants in “special circumstances”.

Referring to the plan to use migrants’ assets to pay for their stay in Denmark, he wrote, “I believe that such a measure could amount to an infringement of the human dignity of the persons concerned.”

On Thursday, Swiss broadcaster SRF reported that migrants arriving in Switzerland are obliged to give authorities any assets worth over 1,000 Swiss francs ($995). It showed a photograph of a receipt one refugee received for his cash.

Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Louise Ireland