Not easy to return rejected asylum seekers

After a final rejection on asylum, the case is transferred to the Danish police (Nationalt Udlændingecenter, NUC), who will call in the person for a meeting. The police will try to persuade him/her to sign a form of voluntary return, and to work actively on going back. However, very few will change their mind from one day to the next in this way. 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 1,500 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. In 2015, 646 persons left Denmark, of these 164 on their own, 379 were put on a plane by the police, and 103 were deported in the company of Danish police officers. Most of this last group were Afghans.

An even larger group disappear after rejection, according to the police around 1,500 are "presumed to have left", but a part of them are living under ground in Denmark. Since the deportation centre Kærshovedgård has been taken into use, most of the people who are supposed to stay there have disappeared.

The smaller rest group, out of whom some will end up spending many years in the asylum centres, will now be sent to the deportation centres, loose their cash allowances and the right to work. Usually they will have a duty to report to the police every week, and the police might arrest them 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, in collaboration with IOM. 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 more in the report "Asylum Camp Limbo", under Deportation hindrances and the status from the police 2014 (in Danish).