UN rights chief concerned about plan to put foreign criminals on Danish island

Deportation of up to 100 criminals halted due to torture, execution risks in home countries

UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet at a press conference, at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on December 5h Photograph: Martial Trezzini/EPA

United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Wednesday she is concerned about Denmark’s plan to house some foreign criminals on a tiny island south of the capital.

The government on Friday proposed using Lindholm island for up to 100 criminals whose sentence of deportation cannot be carried out because they risk torture or execution in their home country.

The plan is the government’s latest bid to curb immigration.

The immigration ministry even has a tracker counting the tightening of immigration legislation on its website uim.dk.


Critics say the plan is draconian but it is supported by the government’s anti-immigrant ally, the Danish People’s Party.

“I have serious concerns with this plan and we will monitor it and discuss it . . . with the government,” Ms Bachelet told journalists in Geneva.

“We’ve seen the negative impact of such policies of isolation, and (they) should not replicate these policies. Because depriving them of their liberty, isolating them, and stigmatising them will only increase their vulnerability,” she added.

The island of Lindholm, located roughly 80km south of Copehagen Photograph: Google Maps

Under the plan, the criminals could leave the island during the day but would have to report their whereabouts to authorities and return at night.

"They are unwanted in Denmark and they must feel that," said Integration Minister Inger Stojberg in a Facebook post after the proposal was announced.

Lindholm is seven acres square and is currently used by scientists from the Technical University of Denmark researching swine flu and rabies among other things.

One ferry travelling to the island is named Virus.

The centre, which will be able to hold up to 100 persons, is set to be established in 2021 and will cost 759 million Danish crowns (€101 million ).

Parliament will vote on the proposal this month. Denmark is set to hold an election no later than June 17th next year.