More than half of Somali, Lebanese, and Moroccan men from a certain age group were convicted in their youth, a new Danish study conducted by the Unitos think tank based on figures by the Justice Ministry has shown.
Unitos looked at the number and the percentage of men born in 1985, 1986, and 1987 who were sentenced at least once for breaking the law starting from their adolescence to the age of 30. The verdicts include crimes such as vandalism, theft, burglary, robbery, and violence. Traffic violations were not included, the newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported.
Among other things, 222 of the 357 men originating in Somalia received at least one verdict, which corresponds to a whopping 62 percent. For Lebanese youths, the figure was 322 of 535 or 60 percent. Moroccans came third with 54%, followed by Iraqis, Iranians and people from the former Yugoslavia, all above 40 percent. For the sake of comparison, barely 22 percent of Vietnamese men had a criminal record, and only 18 percent of ethnic Danish men did. The percentages for women were not calculated.
“The figures show that a very large proportion of young men from some of the major immigrant countries have been convicted of breaking the law”, Unitos co-founder Lasse Birk Olesen said, emphasising the emerging nuances. “Some countries of origin show major crime problems, and others, mainly in Europe and Southeast Asia, are almost down to the level of ethnic Danes”.
Criminologist David Sausdal cautioned against hasty conclusions, as socio-economic conditions were not accounted for in the study. At the same time, he called for more research into the causes of immigrants' over-representation in crime statistics.
Halima El Abassi, the chair of the Council of Ethnic Minorities, suggested that some of the young people's parents have had different norms and blamed post-traumatic stress as one of the possible reasons. Still, she was annoyed by the high numbers and said: “When given a chance in this country, you should abide by the law”.
Social Democrat spokesman Jeppe Bruus blamed the ghetto problem and suggested that at least one element to the possible solution is to “break up the ghettos”.
Denmark is currently at pains to eradicate its troubled suburbs by 2030 with the help of the so-called “ghetto package”. The package contains 22 measures. Among other things, crimes committed in the designated suburbs are punished more severely than in the rest of the country. Other measures include setting a limit on children from designated ghettos in a single preschool, while welfare recipients choosing to settle in “blacklisted” areas are punished by having their social benefits halved.