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Former Danish Minister Under 'Historic' Impeachment Trial for Separating Underage Migrant Couples

© AFP 2022 / EMMANUEL DUNANDDanish Interior Minister Inger Stojberg holds her phone showing a Danish flags as she attends a Justice and Home Affairs Council at the European Council in Brussels on 18 November 2016
Danish Interior Minister Inger Stojberg holds her phone showing a Danish flags as she attends a Justice and Home Affairs Council at the European Council in Brussels on 18 November 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.09.2021
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Former Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg maintained that she did “the only political and humane thing” to combat forced child marriages and help young girls.
A bizarre impeachment trial against former Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg has begun in Denmark.
The case conserns her instruction to separate asylum-seeking couples, where one party was a minor, which was taken in 2016 in the aftermath of the migrant crisis and has since been seen as controversial, TV2 reported.
A 750-page report by a review commission subsequently found that the instruction lacked support in the law and that it violated other principles as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.
Støjberg, a political maverick who quit her post in 2019 and abandoned her former liberal-conservative Venstre Party over perceived lack of support, is risking fines or even imprisonment.
The 48-year-old ex-minister denies any wrongdoing.
“I know what I have done and I know what I have said,” she said on the way into the courtroom. “It's a special day today. It is always a bit special to be a pawn in Denmark's political history,” she added.
Previously, Støjberg contended that she did “the only political and humane thing” to combat forced child marriages and help young girls.
The instruction in question was reportedly issued in a press release from her ministry. According to report, Støjberg had been warned that it was illegal, but the review was unable to establish that she gave any direct instruction to officials to break the law.
A total of 23 couples were separated according to the decision.
Law professor Frederik Waage pointed out that it was only the third such case in more than a century, calling it “historic”.
While this is the sixth time in Danish history for a minister to be brought before a national court, this is only the second time in over 110 years. Before Støjberg, former Conservative Justice Minister Erik Ninn-Hansen was sentenced to four months' probation for stopping the family reunification of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.
The Court of Impeachment has scheduled 46 days of hearings.
As minister in a liberal-conservative Venstre government backed by the national-conservative Danish People’s Party, Støjberg was known for her hardline immigration policy.
Among others, she boasted of having passed over a hundred amendments curbing immigrants’ rights, and sparked controversy in 2017 when she posted a picture of herself on social media celebrating her 50th consecutive amendment with a cake.
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