Not easy to return rejected asylum seekers

After a final rejection on asylum, the case is transferred to the Danish Return Agency who will call in the person for a meeting. The case worker will try to persuade him/her to sign a contract of voluntary return, and to work actively on going back. However, very few will be persuaded. Applying for asylum usually means that the applicant is convinced of being in severe danger in his/her home country – no matter how the Danish authorities assess the case. Most people will therefore refuse to sign, resulting in the stamp "not collaborating".

There are usually around 1,000 persons in "deportation position" every year, and this number covers persons who just received a rejection as well as persons who spent 10-20 years in the asylum system. The largest group is from Iran. In 2019, 449 persons were sent out of Denmark, of these 23 on their own, 333 were put on a plane by the authorities, and 93 were deported accompanied by Danish police officers.

An even larger group disappear after rejection, according to the police around 1,500 are "presumed to have left", thye majority going to other countries in Europe and a smaller part living under ground in Denmark.

The smaller rest group will end up spending many years in the deportation centres, with no cash allowances and no right to work. Usually they will have a duty to spend the nihght in the centre, report to the Return Agency three times a week, and they might get arrested anytime under suspicion of going under ground.

Why can't they be deported?

The majority of asylum seekers arrive without a passport. When the Danish police wants to put them on a plane, they have to obtain or renew a passport from the authorities of the home country, or the home country must accept the return and issue temporary travel documents, known as Laissez Passer. This can be a serious struggle: no reply to the request, doubt about the identity, lack of will from the home country, demands from the home country that the return must be voluntary. In most cases it can be solved if the person has a genuine wish to return, but very few have, obviously.

During some periods, an offer of economic support after return has persuaded a certain amount of rejected asylum seekers to go back voluntarily. But it is a fact, that no matter how much Denmark has tried to make life unbearable and push people to go back, it has just caused more mental diseases and frustration. A small part of the rejected actually get their asylum case reopened, or they end up getting family reunification, which keeps up the hope for the others – but it also proves that mistakes and wrong decisions are made in the asylum procedure. Some years ago, quite a number of rejected persons were granted humanitarian residence permit, mainly after becoming mentally ill after many years of waiting, but this practice is now so rigid that is is in fact impossible.

Read a short description of the centers and prison here, and find more detailed information about the whole issue in the new report "En fast hånd i ryggen" and the somewhat older report "Asylum Camp Limbo".