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Danish Emergency Law: Double Penalty for Coronavirus-Related Crimes, Expulsion of Foreign Criminals

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The law also includes a quadrupling of penalties for attempts to abuse the state relief measures to help businesses survive the epidemic.

A broad majority of Danish parties have supported a bill on double punishment for criminals who exploit the coronavirus epidemic for personal gain, the newspaper BT reported.

On the initiative of the national-conservative Danish People's Party and the New Right, the original bill was expanded to include the expulsion of foreign criminals.

Former Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg, the liberal-conservative party Venstre's vice-leader and legal rapporteur and the sponsor of the original bill, said she was pleased with the additions.

“I believe that this bill has been improved over time, even with the amendments that the Danish People's Party and the New Right have come up with, and that is of course why we support it”, Inger Støjberg said, as quoted by the news outlet Den Korte Avis. “My principal view, and that of Venstre as well, is that as a foreigner, you obviously have a very special obligation not to commit crime when in Denmark. Therefore, the strengthening in that field is only fair and reasonable”.

The bill was also supported by the ruling Social Democrats party.

“You can safely say that the Parliament has found the big hammer and is using it against those who cheat and scam,” Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup said, as quoted by Danish Radio.

However, the law also met some resistance. The Social Liberal Party and the Red-Green Alliance voted against it. The latter was in favour of the double penalties, but was largely put off by the expulsion clause.

“We do not want to support the divide in society. We want to support unity against the corona crisis, we want to support solidarity, and therefore we are voting against this proposal,” Søren Søndergaard of the Red-Green Alliance reasoned.

The Socialist People's Party symbolically voted against the expulsion amendment, but voted yest to overall bill.

“It is very reprehensible if you take advantage of the situation with CoVID-19 to commit crime,” the party's legal rapporteur Karina Dehnhardt Lorentzen said.

The law also includes stricter penalties for people trying to abuse the multi-billion aid package that the government has passed to offer relief to affected businesses and help them weather the crisis. For this type of crime, a quadrupling of penalties is due.

Lastly, the law has a so-called “sunset clause”, which means that it expires on 1 March 2021.

Denmark has about 3,400 cases of COVID-19 so far, and has registered 123 fatalities. Denmark is currently on lockdown, with schools closed and non-essential workers working from home, but is eyeing a gradual re-opening after Easter.

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