Danish former minister ousted by parliament after rare impeachment

Former immigration minister Inger Stojberg was handed 60-day prison sentence but is unlikely to do time

Nikolaj Skydsgaard
Wednesday 22 December 2021 10:43
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<p>Former Danish migration minister Inger Stojberg waves as she leaves parliament in Copenhagen on 21 December 2021</p>

Former Danish migration minister Inger Stojberg waves as she leaves parliament in Copenhagen on 21 December 2021

Denmark’s former immigration minister Inger Stojberg has been voted out of parliament by fellow lawmakers following her conviction in a rare impeachment case.

Ms Stojberg was handed a 60-day prison sentence last week by an almost unanimous impeachment court for intentionally ordering the separation of underage couples seeking asylum during her tenure as immigration minister in 2016.

Under Danish and human rights law, each refugee couple, either married or in a relationship, must be assessed on its own merits, implying that the minister’s order to separate all underage couples was illegal. A total of 23 couples were separated under her tenure before the policy was halted months later.

On Tuesday, 98 lawmakers, including from the Liberal Party, her former party, on Tuesday voted in favour of ousting Ms Stojberg from parliament, with 18 from immigration hard-liner Danish People’s Party and New Right voting against the motion.

"The conclusion in the case must be, that Inger Stojberg‘s conviction at the impeachment court is incompatible with being a member of parliament," Jeppe Bruus, a spokesman for the ruling Social Democratic party, told parliament.

Ms Stoejberg maintained her innocence throughout the trial and said she initiated the policy of separating minors from their partners out of concerns the relationships may have involved forced marriages.

After the vote on Tuesday, she told reporters: "I would rather be voted out by my colleagues here in parliament because I have tried to protect some girls than getting voted out by the Danish people because I have turned a blind eye."

Ms Stojberg could still run for a seat in the next parliamentary vote, which must be held at latest June 2023.

"Do not expect this to be the last you hear from me," she said.

In the impeachment case, 25 out of 26 judges agreed to convict Ms Stojberg, only the sixth case of its kind in the Nordic country in more than 170 years and the first since 1995.

However, people in Denmark who receive prison sentences of less than six months are eligible for electronic monitoring instead, meaning Ms Stojberg is unlikely to spend any time behind bars.

She served as minister for immigration, integration and housing from 2015 to 2019 under the previous center-right government. Considered an immigration hard-liner, Ms Stoejberg spearheaded the tightening of Denmark’s asylum and immigration rules.

Reuters / AP

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