Denmark to Ferry "Unwanted" Foreigners to Isolated Island

The veterinary research facility at Lindholm Island (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 12-05-2018 10:41:57

As part of a finance agreement for the next fiscal year, Denmark's government has agreed to ship 100 "undesirable" migrants to Lindholm Island, a small outcropping that has historically been used for studying livestock diseases. The policy is intentionally punitive, according to immigration minister Inger Stojberg, who wrote in a social media post that "they are unwanted in Denmark, and they must feel it."

The banishment policy will apply to non-citizens who have been ordered expelled from Denmark due to criminal activity or due to the interests of state security, along with rejected asylum-seekers who cannot be deported due to legal reasons.

In keeping with international human rights law, Lindholm Island will not be designated an official prison or detention facility, but rather a "departure center." It has a regular ferry service that low-risk occupants will be free to use to visit mainland Denmark. However, the ferry "will not operate around the clock, and [occupants] must stay at the departure center at night" so that they may be tracked, according to finance minister Kristian Jensen. Separately, a spokesman for the anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DPP or DF) told media that the government will make the ferry "as cumbersome and expensive as possible" in order to minimize its use. 

Until this summer, Lindholm was the home of the DTU National Veterinary Institute's Division of Virology. Its research focused on exotic viral diseases in animals, including foot and mouth disease and swine fever. According to the New York Times, one of the island's ferries is named the Virus.

DTU has already made an independent decision to end its operations on the island and will consolidate its virology work at another location. Given its previous use, the process for converting the island into a "departure center" for human occupants will involve decontamination, and it will not open until 2021. 

The new relocation policy will not apply to the general population of refugees, but DPP spokesperson Martin Henriksen told the AP that it sends a message to all. According to Henriksen, Lindholm Island “is a signal to the world that Denmark is not attractive” for migrants. 

In announcing the new policy, the DPP posted an animation of a ferry carrying a person of color to a rocky island, then departing. The post drew accusations of racism from the party's opponents and from human rights activists.