Since February 5, the Danish police have been empowered with the authority to confiscate cash and valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (roughly 1,500 dollars) from arriving asylum seekers in order to cover the cost for their upkeep. Under the law, the arrivals were only allowed to keep their mobile phones and objects of sentimental value. The law, commonly labeled the "jewelry bill," was part of Denmark's efforts to tighten its immigration policy, following last year's unprecedented influx of migrants. The government defended the law in wake of criticism from human rights groups by arguing that its primary goal is to help accommodate asylum seekers without means.
Claus Oxfeldt, chairman of the Danish Police Union (Politiforbundet), told Danish Radio he was not surprised that officers had never used their authority to seize valuables from the latest arrivals.
"I have never expected it to become a serious issue for the police," he said.
Earlier this year, the "jewelry law" angered humanitarian groups, many of whom drew suggestive parallels with the Holocaust, when gold and valuables were taken from Jews by the Nazis. Among others, the US watchdog Human Rights Watch labeled the law as "despicable", whereas The Guardian published a cartoon depicting Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen in a Nazi uniform. Rasmussen has repeatedly brushed off criticism by saying that Denmark has "nothing to be ashamed of."