Europe

Danish Couple Prosecuted for People Trafficking After Giving Refugees a Lift

A Danish couple were found guilty of people trafficking on Friday for driving a family of refugees to their Copenhagen home and then to the railway station.

A Danish children’s rights campaigner and her husband were both found guilty on Friday of people trafficking for driving a family of Syrian refugees to their Copenhagen home and then to the city’s railway station.

Lisbeth Zornig Andersen – a former chair of Børnerådet, Denmark’s National Council for Children – and her husband Michael Lindholm were each fined 22,500 Danish Krone (€3,000, $3,350) by a court in southern Denmark. The fine, the maximum allowed under Danish law, was demanded by the prosecutor in Nykøbing Falster, The Guardian reports.

While driving in southern Denmark on Sept. 7, Zornig Andersen picked up four adults and two children who were among crowds of refugees walking from Germany into Denmark. She brought them to her home and gave them coffee and cakes. Lindholm then brought the group to the railway station where he purchased tickets to Sweden, which – at the time – had more liberal laws on asylum for refugees.

Under Denmark’s Aliens Act, it is a crime to transport people who do not have residence permits. Between September 2015 and February 2016, 279 people have been charged with violating the act, police say.

At least two other people have been fined for similar offenses: In January, a man was fined DKr 5,000 and a 70-year-old pensioner was fined DKr 12,500 on Thursday.

After the hearing, Zornig Andersen said:

“I thought smuggling was when you pass a border and when you take money or benefit from it – not driving inside the country. But unfortunately that seems to be the case in Denmark.

“This was a political trail, using me and my husband to send a strong message: don’t try to help refugees.

“I am very angry because the only thing we did was the decent thing, the same that hundreds of others did. They are criminalising decency.”

Denmark has taken an increasingly hardline stance on refugees and migrants since the start of the current crisis. Parliament in January passed a package of measures restricting refugees’ rights, including granting police the power to seize their cash and valuables and extending the time they must wait for family reunification.

A separate resolution, also passed in January, requires the government come up with a proposal by this month to replace migrant housing in cities and towns with new camps.

(Image: Lisbeth Zornig Andersen with a Syrian refugee family she drove to Copenhagen. Photo: Mikael Lindholm)

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