COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Denmark’s former immigration minister, Inger Stjberg, has been sentenced to 60 days in prison after a special court found her guilty of illegally separating couples of asylum seekers where the woman was under the age of 18.
The court decided Stjberg, who pleaded not guilty in the exceptional trial that began in September, violated the European convention on human rights by ordering the separation of couples, some of whom had children.
In a statement, Denmark’s court of impeachment of the realm said, “Inger Stjberg is found guilty of a deliberate violation of the Ministerial Responsibility Act.”
However, Stjberg is unlikely to spend any time in prison, as those in Denmark serving a sentence under six months are eligible for electronic monitoring, instead.
In 2016, 23 couples, most of whom had a small age difference, were separated without individual examinations of their cases, following instructions from the minister. They were then placed in different centres while their cases were examined.
Stjberg’s decision was found to be “unlawful,” because the arrangement was made without exceptions and the immigration service did not consider individual cases.
Parliament will now decide whether she is still eligible to be a member of parliament.
Stjberg tightened Denmark’s restrictive migration policies while serving as minister for immigration and integration from 2015 to 2019, as part of a centre-right government supported by the right wing populist anti-immigration Danish People’s party (DF).
Her case was only the third time since 1910 that a politician has been referred to the 26-judge special court in Denmark, which tries ministers for malpractice or negligence while in office.