Monitoring of forced deportations

The Ombudsman monitors forced deportations carried out by the police. The aim is to monitor how the Danish Police treat foreign nationals who are deported from the country by force.

The Ombudsman has been assigned the task of observing how the police escort foreign nationals out of Denmark when they are deported. In some instances, a legal case officer from the Ombudsman’s office comes along for part of or for the whole journey as an observer.

When foreign nationals, who are expelled from Denmark, do not leave the country voluntarily, they will be deported by force by the police.

The deportation can either be carried out through a supervised departure, where the departure is supervised by the police, for example when the person boards a plane or a ship, or as escorted departure where the police escort the foreign national out of the country to the home country or a third country where he or she is entitled to take up residence.

The Ombudsman’s monitoring covers both supervised and escorted departures, but his focus is mainly concentrated on escorted departures.

The Ombudsman is present during some of the forced deportations carried out by the police – this means that a legal case officer from the Ombudsman’s office participates from the time when a foreign national is picked up by the police and until he or she is extradited to another country’s authorities. The Ombudsman’s legal case officer monitors how the deportation is carried out. He or she cannot or must not intervene in possible incidents which may occur during the deportation. The legal case officer can ask questions during the specific deportation. It is also possible for the legal case officer to initiate an investigation of the case after the deportation.

The Ombudsman also receives regular reports from the police on deportations. Lastly, the Ombudsman reviews a number of finalised specific deportation cases.

As part of the monitoring work, the Ombudsman has, among other things, the right to request information, documents and statements as well as the right to inspect places of work and premises. 

The Ombudsman must especially monitor that the work by the police in connection with forced deportations is carried out with respect for the individual and without unnecessary use of force. The Ombudsman must assess whether the police act in accordance with good administrative practice and applicable law – for example Denmark’s obligations pursuant to EU law and international human rights conventions.

Just like other Monitoring visits carried out by the Ombudsman, he can as part of his monitoring activities also assess the conditions on the basis of universal human and humanitarian aspects.

The Ombudsman’s monitoring is overall and general, and he can therefore not process specific complaints about police conduct as a part of the monitoring.

The Ombudsman can express criticism and give recommendations to the police and, in addition to this, present his opinion of the cases. The Ombudsman can also suggest changes in procedures or case processing.

The Ombudsman’s monitoring activities comprise forced deportations of foreign nationals who for various reasons are not legally residing in Denmark,  and who therefore have been ordered to depart. This can for example be persons whose application for asylum has been rejected.

The Ombudsman’s monitoring activities do not include forced deportations of foreign nationals carried out by the police, where crime for example is the reason for the deportation.

The legal basis of the monitoring

In 2011, Danish Parliament, the Folketing, passed Act No. 248 of 30 March 2011 about amendment of the Aliens Act. The Act, which came into force on 1 April 2011, implemented the amendments of the Aliens Act which were necessary due to the return directive of the EU. 

Pursuant to Section 30(2), first point, the police in Denmark must make arrangements for foreign nationals’ departure from the country if they do not depart voluntarily. With the amendment of the Act, Section 30a was incorporated in the Aliens Act. According to Section 30a(1), the Parliamentary Ombudsman is in charge of the supervision of forced deportations. Prior to the adoption of the Act, there was no separate monitoring of police activities in connection with forced deportations. Consequently, this lead to the establishment of a new scheme in Denmark.

From and after the review of finalised deportation cases for the year 2016, the Ombudsman does not prepare an annual statement or report any longer. Instead, information about the Ombudsman’s review of finalised deportation cases will be published in the Ombudsman’s annual report, and news stories about the cases will be published to the relevant extent.