The “Child Brides” affair: imprisonment for the Danish Sarah who separated immigrants

In a rare proceeding, a court in Denmark convicted former immigration minister Inge Stoejberg, who ordered the separation of asylum seekers if one of them had not yet turned 18. She claimed: “I wanted to make sure it was not a forced marriage. Going to want my sentences up.”

Former Danish immigration minister Inge Stoejberg, known for pursuing a strict immigration policy, was sentenced today (Monday) to 60 days in prison for the “child brides” affair, in which she ordered to separate couples of asylum seekers in which at least one spouse has not yet filled 18. Stoejberg argued in her defense that she did so for fear that some of the couples were married in a forced marriage, but the special court hearing her case was not convinced.

Stoejberg, a right-wing woman, served as immigration minister on behalf of the Liberal Party from 2019-2015, and is considered one of the main minds behind the rigid immigration policy adopted by Denmark in those years. Under that policy, for example, the authorities were allowed to confiscate from asylum seekers jewelry and other valuables they had brought with them, to help fund their stay in the country.

The affair in which Stoejberg is now convicted began in 2016, when a couple of asylum seekers from Syria complained to the Ombudsman that they had been separated and sent to two separate centers for asylum seekers. Under the same policy, 23 couples of asylum seekers were separated, mostly from Syria. Most of the women among these couples were aged 17-15, while the men were aged 32-15.

Stoejberg explained that she pursued the controversial policy due to the fear that some of the relationships between these couples were based on forced marriage, even though all the women who were under 18 claimed to have married voluntarily. In Denmark, it should be noted, marriage before the age of 18 is prohibited. In any case, the Commission to which the appeal was made opened an investigation, and it ruled that there was no doubt that the policy pursued by the Minister was a violation of the law. The separation policy was discontinued a few months after it began.

The court that ruled in Stoejberg’s case is a special court to dismiss, the one that deals with the cases of government ministers accused of breaking the law. He rarely convenes, and this time convened after the Danish parliament voted in favor of Stoejberg’s prosecution. It consists of 15 Supreme Court justices and 15 members of parliament. All but one of the judges agreed that Stoejberg should be convicted, and former Sarah could not appeal the decision. She was convicted of knowingly violating immigration laws and misleading four-time parliamentary committees when passing information on separation policies to them.

“I am very, very surprised,” Stoejberg said today, receiving flowers from her supporters after the announcement of the ruling. “I think the Danish values ​​lost today. I wanted, and I still want, to protect these girls. I’m going to carry my punishments with my head held high.” At the moment it is not clear whether she will be sent to prison or if she will be handcuffed electronically and more likely to serve her sentence at home. Stoejberg still serves as a member of parliament today, and now legislators will be able to decide whether she should continue to serve.

The last time the court was forced to dismiss Denmark was to convene was in 1995, when the justice minister was sentenced to four months probation following an affair in which she prevented Sri Lankan refugees from bringing their families to Denmark. Since its inception in 1849 Parliament has debated only five cases, and that of Stoejberg is the sixth. Her case is the third to end in a conviction.

By Editor

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