Denmark to Rent Overseas Jail in Kosovo to Provide Enough Space for Its Prisoners
The initiative to send deported criminals to serve their sentences abroad has polarised the Danish political establishment, blurring the traditional lines between the left and the right. While proponents said it eased the burden on Danish prisons, critics ventured that “outsourcing” was immoral and constituted a slippery slope.
Denmark is close to making an agreement with the authorities in Kosovo to rent an entire prison with room for 300 prisoners, Danish Radio
. There, deported criminals will be sent to serve out their sentences.
This is part of a concluded agreement between the government, numerous opposition parties representing both wings of the spectrum and the Danish Prison and Probation Service.
Danish prisons are predicted to lack up to 1,000 prison places by 2025, and the agreement is designed to solve these problems.
“One of the advantages of doing this is that they do not have to be re-socialised to return to society, because they don't have to be in Denmark afterwards. Therefore, we can conveniently move this entire group so that they serve in another place,” Socialist Democrat Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup told Danish Radio.
Remarkably, two of the government's support parties – the Red-Green Alliance and the Social Liberal Party are not part of the agreement.
“The government has chosen to make the Danish Prison and Probation Service a matter of immigration policy. I simply don't believe we should be setting up 300 prison places abroad. There are other much better ways to solve the capacity problems. Furthermore, we have a very bad chance of keeping an eye on the rights of prisoners and human rights,” Red-Green Alliance legal spokeswoman Rosa Lund said.
The Social Liberal Party, for its part, cited “scary” experience from abroad.
“Norway has previously had a much-criticised agreement to rent prison places in the Netherlands. We are very concerned that we are on our way on slippery slope when we in Denmark reject taking responsibility for our prisoners ourselves. Kosovo's prison system has been criticised for corruption, violence between prisoners and poorly trained staff,” the party's legal spokeswoman Samira Nawa told TV2.
The liberal-conservative Venstre Party, which led Denmark before the power shift in 2019, is not part of the agreement either. According to its legal spokesman Preben Bang Henriksen, the agreement is “too lax”.
“Denmark is already a country with one of the most lenient legislations, with the lowest penalties for crimes. With this agreement, you continue downhill,” Bang Henriksen said.
By contrast, the Danish People's Party's legal spokesman Peter Skaarup lauded the initiative for easing the burden on the Danish prison system.
The agreement, which earmarks a total of DKK 4 billion ($600 million) to the new measures that apart from the Kosovo prison include similar facilities in Denmark and measures to ease the country's incarceration rate, has been hailed as a historic increase in funding.