A Danish ex-immigration minister is on trial today for illegally breaking up migrant couples who have applied for asylum in the country. It is unusual in Denmark for so-called impeachment proceedings to be initiated against current or former members of the government.
If convicted, a prison sentence can be imposed, but a fine is more likely, according to experts. Former minister Inger Stojberg could also lose her current seat in parliament and be excluded from future elections.
A special court is involved in the proceedings. It consists of thirteen Supreme Court justices and thirteen politically appointed members. They will decide whether Stojberg has violated the European Convention on Human Rights. As a minister, she ordered the separation of 23 couples in 2016 without assessing the cases individually.
Child and forced marriage
The women were younger than eighteen, but the age differences with their partners were small in most cases. According to Stojberg, separating the couples was “the only political and humane thing” she could do against child and forced marriage. The politician, who is due to make a statement on September 13, expects to be acquitted.
From 2015 to 2019, Stojberg was the minister responsible for the very strict migration policy of the then centre-right government, which a populist anti-migration party supported. She has since left her liberal party but is still a parliamentarian.
A large majority of that parliament voted in February in favour of the impeachment procedure. That had happened only twice before since 2010.