The Danes, a homogenous Gothic-Germanic people, have inhabited Denmark since prehistoric times. Danish is the principal language. English is a required school subject, and fluency is high. A small German-speaking minority lives in southern Jutland; a mostly Inuit population inhabits Greenland; and the Faroe Islands have a Nordic population with its own language. Education is compulsory from ages 7 to 16 and is free through the university level.
Although religious freedom is guaranteed, the state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church accounts for about 84% (down from 92% in 1984) of those persons claiming religious affiliation. Several other Christian denominations, as well as other major religions, find adherents in Denmark. Islam is now the second-largest religion in Denmark.
During the Viking period (9th-11th centuries), Denmark was a great power based on the Jutland Peninsula, the Island of Zealand, and the southern part of what is now Sweden. In the early 11th century, King Canute united Denmark and England for almost 30 years. Viking raids brought Denmark into contact with Christianity, and in the 12th century, crown and church influence increased. By the late 13th century, royal power had waned, and the nobility forced the king to grant a charter, considered Denmark's first constitution. Although the struggle between crown and nobility continued into the 14th century, Queen Margrethe I succeeded in uniting Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland under the Danish crown. Sweden and Finland left the union in 1520; however, Norway remained until 1814. Iceland, in a "personal union" under the king of Denmark after 1918, became independent in 1944.
The Reformation was introduced in Denmark in 1536. Denmark's provinces in today's southwestern Sweden were lost in 1658, and Norway was transferred from the Danish to the Swedish crown in 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon, with whom Denmark was allied.
The Danish liberal movement gained momentum in the 1830s, and in 1849 Denmark became a constitutional monarchy. After the war with Prussia and Austria in 1864, Denmark was forced to cede Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia and adopt a policy of neutrality. Toward the end of the 19th century, Denmark inaugurated important social and labor market reforms, laying the basis for the present welfare state.
Denmark remained neutral during World War I. Despite its declaration of neutrality at the beginning of World War II, it was invaded by the Germans in 1940 and occupied until liberated by the Allied forces in May 1945. Resistance against the Germans was sporadic until late 1943. By then better organized, the resistance movement and other volunteers undertook a successful rescue mission in which nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark was shipped to Sweden (whose neutrality was honored by Germany). However, extensive studies are still undertaken for the purpose of establishing a clearer picture of the degree of Danish cooperation--official and corporate--with the occupying power. Denmark became a charter member of the United Nations and was one of the original signers of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Today, Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democratic rule. Queen Margrethe II is Head of State. The Cabinet, which is accountable to the unicameral Parliament (Folketing), leads the Government. A minority center-right coalition government led by the Liberal Party was formed after elections in November 2001. The Government respects the constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary in practice.
The population is approximately 5.3 million. Denmark has an advanced, market-based industrial economy. One-half of the work force is employed in the public sector. The key industries are food processing and metalworking, and a broad range of industrial goods is exported. The economy provides residents with a high standard of living. Per capita GNP was approximately $30,000. Denmark's industrialized market economy depends on imported raw materials and foreign trade. Within the European Union, Denmark advocates a liberal trade policy. Its standard of living is among the highest in the world, and the Danes devote about 1% of GNP to foreign aid to less developed countries. In addition, Denmark in 2002 is devoting 0.33% of GNP for peace and stability purposes, including to cover preasylum costs for refugees, and for environmental purposes in central and eastern Europe and in developing countries. Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy. Its principal exports are machinery, instruments, and food products. The U.S. is Denmark's largest non-European trading partner, accounting for about 6% of total Danish merchandise trade. Aircraft, computers, machinery, and instruments are among the major U.S. exports to Denmark. Among major Danish exports to the U.S. are industrial machinery, chemical products, furniture, pharmaceuticals, canned ham and pork, windmills, and plastic toy blocks (Lego). In addition, Denmark has a significant services trade with the U.S., a major share of it stemming from Danish-controlled ships engaged in container traffic to and from the U.S (notably by Maersk-SeaLand). There are some 325 U.S.-owned companies in Denmark.
The Danish economy is fundamentally strong. Since the mid-1990s, economic growth rates have averaged close to 3%, the formerly high official unemployment rate has been more than halved to 5%, and public finances have been in surplus. Except for one year--1998--Denmark since 1989 has had comfortable balance-of-payments current account surpluses, in 2001 corresponding to 2.6% of GDP with further improvements expected in coming years. The former Social Democratic lead government coalition lowered marginal income tax rates but at the same time reduced tax deductions, increased environmental taxes, and introduced a series of user fees, thus increasing overall revenues. The present right-of-center government initially has frozen all taxes but is likely to reduce tax on work income when the budget permits. Denmark has performed a stable currency policy since the early 1980s, formerly with the krone linked to the Deutschmark and since January 1, 1999 to the Euro. Denmark meets, and even exceeds, the economic convergence criteria for participating in the third phase (a common European currency--the Euro) of the European Monetary Union (EMU). However, a referendum on EMU participation held on September 28, 2000 resulted in a solid "no," and Denmark therefore maintains its right to remain outside the EMU's third phase. Danes are generally proud of their welfare safety net, which ensures that all Danes receive basic health care and need not fear real poverty. However, at present the number of working-age Danes living mostly on government transfer payments counts more than 800,000 persons (roughly 23% of the working-age population). Although this number has been reduced in recent years, the heavy load of government transfer payments burden other parts of the system. Health care, other than for acute problems, and care for the elderly and children have particularly suffered, while taxes remain at a painful level. More than one-fourth of the labor force is employed in the public sector.
Criminal offenses are defined either in the special part of the Criminal Code or in separate statutes. The general conditions for imposing criminal penalties are found in the general part of the Criminal Code which also apply to separate statutes. The sanctions described in the general part of the Criminal Code are the same whether the criminal offense consists of a violation of the Criminal Code or of separate statutes. The substantive Danish criminal law is monistic, meaning that violations of the law never have been divided into categories like felony/misdemeanor, crime/delicts or the like. It does not mean, however, that major offenses are treated in the same manner as petty offenses in all respects.
The penalties are described in the general part of the Criminal Code. They are: fines, lenient prison (7 to 30 days), prison (1 month to 16 years or imprisonment for life), and community service orders. Prison sentences and fines may be conditionally suspended and there is a list of conditions such as probation, abstaining from drug abuse, and payment of damages that may be stipulated. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for a lifetime which is prescribed for homicide and a few other crimes of equal gravity. In most cases these persons will be given a conditional royal pardon after approximately 12-14 years of imprisonment. The penalty for a typical offense is supposed to be within the lower half of the penalty range for the crime, giving room for mitigating as well as aggravating circumstances. If the case comprises more than one criminal act the penalty must be contained within the ranges of the most serious offense so that penalties for different offenses are not accumulated in an absolute way.
Each statute in the special part of the Criminal Code will tell the kind of penalty applicable for the crime and the upper range of its duration. This gives the court the opportunity to choose the actual penalty freely within the ranges. The penalty ranges for theft go from fines for petty theft to up to four years imprisonment for aggravated theft. Violent attacks and assault are usually punished with prison sentences from one to four years.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
While both INTERPOL and UN Survey data are available for Denmark, INTERPOL data are more complete and current, and so will be used in the following analysis. The crime rate in Denmark is moderate compared to other industrialized countries. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Denmark will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 4.03 for Denmark, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 9.32 for Denmark, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 59.14 for Denmark, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2000 was 23.68 for Denmark, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 1868.06 for Denmark, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 1224.71 for Denmark, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was 604.18 for Denmark, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 3793.12 for Denmark, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA.
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 1.13 to 4.03, an increase of 256.6%. The rate for rape increased from 8.44 to 9.32, an increase of 10.4%. The rate of robbery increased from 39.09 to 59.14, an increase of 51.3%. The rate for aggravated assault decreased from 165.29 to 23.68 per 100,000, a decrease of 85.7%. The rate for burglary decreased from 2042.56 to 1868.06, a decrease of 8.5%. The rate of larceny increased from 599.94 to 1224.71, an increase of 104.1%. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 683.55 to 604.18, a decrease of 11.6%. The rate of total index offenses increased from 3540 to 3793.12, an increase of 7.2%.
A survey has shown that about 25% of the population was victimized in 1986 by criminal acts such as theft, vandalism and violence. Of these, 14% had experienced theft, 12% vandalism and 6% violence. More men than women were victimized. The difference between age groups was apparent. More than one third of young people between 16- 24 years were victimized against less than one eighth of old people over 65 years of age. The greatest risk of experiencing criminality was found among young men in urban areas.
Private crisis centers for victims of violence and rape are found in all major towns. According to the Law of Compensation to Victims of Violent Acts the victim has the right to receive compensation from the state and a scale for paying damages has been established.
The victim has no right to be a party to the proceedings under the penal aspects of the case. They are notified of the action taken by the prosecution. In a very limited number of cases the victim is permitted to prosecute, i.e. offenses against personal honor and special cases where the public prosecutor has decided not to pursue the matter. The victim may be called as a witness under the normal rules regarding witnesses.
The victim has the right to present civil claims under the criminal process. Victims of certain violent crimes such as sexual assault may receive legal assistance during the criminal proceedings. A sexual assault victim is also entitled to request that the courtroom be cleared while he or she is giving evidence.
In the 18th and 19th centuries the criminal justice system developed into an adversarial system. According to the Administration of Justice Act from 1916, both the pre-trial proceedings and the trial itself follow this system. This process also includes the questioning of witnesses and the accused by the presiding judge. It follows from the principle of material truth that the judge is obliged to elucidate all vague points of the case.
The criminal justice system is administered by the Ministry of Justice, the Minister of Justice being head of office regarding Denmark as well as Greenland. The police, the courts when seen as an administrative body, and the correctional system all stand under the immediate authority of the Minister of Justice.
In the year 1660, Denmark was made an absolute monarchy and in 1683 a new set of laws, Christian den Femtes Danske Lov, was issued. These statutes were much influenced by municipal law. In the following centuries, with these laws becoming increasingly obsolete, the Supreme Court played a prominent role in interpreting and completing statutory law.
In 1848 democracy was introduced in the kingdom of Denmark and in 1866 a modern criminal code was issued. The first clause of the general part stated the principle of legality which is nulla poena sine lege. The criminal code of today, Straffeloven, af 15. April 1930 entered into force in 1933.
In 1953 the large Arctic island of Greenland which had been colonized by Denmark was made part of the country. In the year 1954, a criminal code especially for Greenland was issued in which sanctions were based on the old traditions of the people. Thus, Greenland's criminal justice system is solely offender treatment oriented, although this criminal policy causes increasing difficulties in a modern society. Figures and information about Greenland's criminal justice are not included in the following.
The national police have sole responsibility for internal security. The civilian authorities generally maintain effective control of the security forces. The state police is a department of the Ministry of Justice. There is no longer a municipal police and the military police only has authority over soldiers according to the Military Criminal Code. Denmark is divided into 54 police districts (excluding the Faeroe Islands and Greenland), each headed by a local chief of police. The National Commissioner reports to the Minister of Justice. For administrative purposes the police are subdivided into plain-clothes criminal investigators, uniformed patrolmen, traffic police officers, immigration police, and other categories.
New recruits are required to be in good physical condition, good personal and economic condition, and should have achieved good grades in school. New recruits are usually required to be between 21 and 29 years of age, of Danish citizenship and without any convictions. The basic training of police personnel takes 3 years. The training comprises both school education and training of a more practical nature. School education, which consists of 2 courses of 8 months each, takes place at the Police Academy in Copenhagen. The rest of the training time is spent on the job. The Police Academy also presents special courses and leadership courses. All chiefs of police hold a master's degree in law from a university.
A policeman on duty is armed with a pistol and a baton. According to the rules issued by the National Commissioner the pistol and baton may be used when considered necessary, mainly to avert damage to a person, or to arrest dangerous criminals. Firearms may also be used to avert dangerous attacks on state institutions and to disperse an unlawful assembly which is considered to intend a dangerous attack of such kind. The use of firearms and police batons must be reported to the National Commissioner in writing. In the year 1993, 245 reports concerning the use of and threats of using firearms were filed. There were 359 reports concerning the use of police batons. Coercive measures must be based on law and they must respect the principle of proportionality, and they may not violate fundamental rights. According to the Administration of Justice Act the police may apprehend a person in order to establish his or her identity. In order to take a person suspected of criminal acts into custody, the suspicion must be strong and concern fairly serious offense.
Arrests are made by the police on their own discretion. According to the Constitution, arrests for a period of more than 24 hours have to be decided by the court. The maximum period of a prolonged arrest is 72 hours. When the grounds for detention no longer exist the person must be released and the time of the release be reported. Detention on remand can only be decided by a court. A person who is suspected of a criminal act will in many cases be released after questioning in the police station, even if the person is formally charged with a crime.
Suspects and their homes or any other place where relevant objects or wanted persons are presumably to be found may be searched. The conditions for this measure depend on whether it is a public place or a private home, whether it is necessary to act with short notice, or whether the person consents to the search. Two independent witnesses will be summoned to the search unless the suspect waives his rights. Compensation may be awarded for the infamy caused by an improper search. Objects of proof or loot may be seized wherever they are found.
Suspects are not obligated to testify. According to the Administration of Justice Act the police may under no circumstances put pressure on the suspect or use any kind of force in order to make him or her speak. On the other hand, the accused must submit to an examination of his body if the police wish to look for traces of a fight or conduct blood analysis. The accused may also be ordered by the court to undergo a psychiatric examination, possibly in a mental hospital.
According to the Administration of Justice Act complaints over police behavior are dealt with by a lokalnaevn or local committee. In such cases the committee consists of the chief of police, two police staff members, members pointed out by the municipality and a representative for the defense lawyer's association. The local committee decides whether to investigate the matter. The investigation itself may be carried out by the public prosecutor or by the city court. The committee may refuse to investigate if the complaint is considered unfounded or if the case is considered to have been adequately seen into.
The Government generally has respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with instances of individual abuse. There have been no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life by the Government or its agents. There have been no reports of politically motivated disappearances. The law prohibits such practices as torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and there have been no reports that officials employed them.
A person against whom criminal prosecution is initiated is not automatically subject to detention on remand. Detention must be applied in accordance with the principle of proportionality. Thus, it cannot be used if the actual crime in fact only carries a fine or lenient imprisonment. Beside these conditions the general rules are: Firstly, there must exist a reasonable suspicion that an arrestable offense has been committed, i.e. an offense which carries a maximum penalty for at least one year and six months, e.g. ordinary theft and burglary. Secondly, one or more of the following special grounds for detention must be present: Serious reasons to believe that the accused will either abscond, that he might commit further offenses of the same sort if left at large, or that he will meddle with the evidence. On specifically listed serious grounds detention may also be used in order to protect the public sense of justice. The court may decide that a prisoner on remand is to be isolated inside the prison. The decision has to be renewed at least every second week. The average length of stays in remand prison is estimated to be between two and four weeks.
In cases where remand detention is applicable the court may choose to release the accused conditionally if the purpose of remand detention can be obtained in a more lenient manner. Release on bail has been used in very rare cases and is not a usual part of the criminal justice system.
In 1992, the proportion of persons with prison sentences who previously had been held in pre-trial incarceration was estimated to be 27%. There were also 23,781 convictions with unsuspended or suspended prison sentences in comparison to 6,407 cases of remand detention.
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and the Government generally observes these prohibitions. The Constitution mandates that individuals who are arrested have the right to a hearing before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. If a judge decides to hold persons in detention, then he must issue an order stating why. The Constitution allows for the immediate appeal of a judge's detention order.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respects this provision in practice. The judicial system consists of a series of local and regional courts, with the Supreme Court at the apex. The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary vigorously enforces this right. The law provides for defendants' right to timely consultation with an attorney, at public expense if needed. Defendants have the right to question witnesses against them and to present witnesses for their defense. Defendants and their attorneys have access to government evidence relevant to their case. Under court procedures, defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to appeal their sentences and procedural issues involved in their case.
The accused is to be regarded as an active subject with the benefit of the presumption of innocence. He has the right to be heard, to present evidence, to put questions to witnesses, and to take remedies. He is also to some extent an object of investigatory measures such as finger-printing and blood tests for alcohol. He may also have to submit to coercive measures such as arrest and search of his home. The accused is under no obligation actively to contribute to the prosecution and neither pressure nor cunning may be applied in view of obtaining statements. Devices such as the lie-detector or methods like narco-analysis or hypnosis are inadmissible. Everyone accused has the right to legal assistance by counsel of his own choice. Defense counsel is mandatory in all criminal cases of a more serious nature, regardless of the financial situation of the accused. The defense counselor is appointed either at the request of the accused or, more often, chosen by the court from a body of qualified lawyers previously selected by the Ministry of Justice. The police must inform the accused of his right to a publicly assigned defense counsel. If the convicted is unable to pay his defense counsel the Treasury will in most cases provide the lawyer's fee and cover other costs. In case of acquittal the State will nearly always cover all costs. It is the right of the accused to have his defense counsel present during police interrogation and court hearings, and he is entitled to consult with counsel in private at all times. The counselor is informed of the evidence gathered by the police but in some cases he may not notify the accused of the contents.
The first step in the criminal proceedings is the police inquiry. While investigating, the police do not act as agents of the government but exercise their functions objectively as fact-finders. The local chief of police, who has a law degree together with his deputies, has the authority to prosecute in nearly all cases. The most serious cases are referred to the district attorney, who is also in charge of the cases for the High Court which entail jury cases and appellate cases. The Director of public prosecution conducts criminal cases for the Supreme Court.
Prosecution may be abandoned in cases where a conviction cannot be expected because of lack of evidence, or charges may be withdrawn in cases against young people or first-time offenders. Withdrawal of charges often will be combined with conditions similar to those imposed by a suspended sentence. Conditional withdrawal of charges only takes place in minor cases, where the accused has made an unqualified confession which is found to be true by the court. Unconditional withdrawal of charges is used in two different situations. In rare cases charges against a suspect are dropped when there are special mitigating circumstances in accordance with the principle of opportunity. More often, the public prosecutor may reduce the charges if further prosecution will cause difficulties, costs, or a prolonged period in court out of proportion to the importance of the case or the expected sentence. This may be the case, for instance, in big tax evasion cases or fraud cases.
The court system in criminal matters consists of the Supreme Court, two high courts and 84 city courts. A major part of all criminal cases are resolved with the participation of two lay judges in addition to the city court judge. Their votes carry the same weight on all questions. In the rare cases where a jury is instituted by the Administration of Justice Act, twelve jurors participate in the case in addition to three high court judges. In jury cases the united lay votes carry the same weight as the professional judges' votes. There are 15 supreme court judges, 69 high court judges, and 195 judges in the city courts. The judges all have high university law degrees prior to their engagement by the Ministry of Justice. After a decade or more of work in the courts or in the Ministry of Justice the judge will, according to the Constitution, be appointed for life or until his or her retirement at the age of 70. Denmark has no special courts in criminal matters besides the ordinary court system. Thus, juvenile cases, which are often settled by a conditional withdrawal of charges, are handled by the city court judges.
Confessions may influence the sentence in a mitigating direction but the Administration of Justice Act does not allow guilty pleas where the accused is allowed to confess to a lesser crime. There is no information on how the majority of criminal cases are resolved. The sentence is determined by the presiding judges. In preparing the case the police are governed by the principle of objectivity which means that the police are obliged to look at circumstances that speak for as well as against the accused. A social report is developed if it is considered possible that the personal conditions of the accused may influence the determination of the penalty. The police write such a report in cases where the sentence may be suspended, or where charges may be conditionally withdrawn, as well as in cases regarding the mentally unfit where measures other than punishment are considered. In some cases the accused may be required to undergo a psychiatric examination in a mental hospital. All kinds of evidence, including witnesses' statements, are supposed to be laid before the court during the criminal proceedings on which basis the court decides the sentence. In minor cases and cases where the accused has made a full confession the court consists of one city court judge. In all criminal cases of first instance where the permissible sentence is more severe than a fine, two lay judges will participate in the trial.
The correctional service controls 15 prisons, one institution for inmates needing psychiatric treatment, and 40 local jails. Five of the prisons and the psychiatric institution are closed in that they are secured by an external ring wall as well as by internal precautions like secured buildings, and electronic security systems combined with relatively dense staffing. The staff does not carry arms. Being used as remand detention institutions, the local jails are also closed. The remaining nine prisons are open institutions which actually means that the inmates are physically able to leave the institution. Two of the closed prisons have both male and female inmates. In one of these prisons there is cohabitation between men and women within units. There are also two open prison departments for women.
All prisons and jails are state institutions administered by the Ministry of Justice's Department of Prisons and Probation. The basic qualifications for prison guards are good physical condition, good personal and economic conditions, and good school attainments. New recruits are usually required to be between 21 and 29 years of age, of Danish citizenship and having never been convicted. The prison staff education takes place at the Prison Educational Center. As is the case with the police chiefs, the prison wardens possess university law degrees.
The policies of the correctional service are governed by the following three principles: a. Normalization. As a starting point the inmate is placed in the open prison closest to his home in order to preserve family contacts and to pave the way for a gradual release from the prison. There must be specific reasons for instituting control of inmates' correspondence. Visits by next-of-kin take place in secluded visiting rooms with a couch. In the open prisons weekend leaves are granted every third week to prisoners with a low risk of recidivism. A prisoner in a closed institution may obtain similar rights to weekend leave when he has served one fourth of his sentence. At some time during incarceration about one third of the prisoners in closed prisons are granted occasional leaves. The total number of leaves per year is about 57,000. More than half of these are so-called work leaves where an inmate leaves the prison to go to work or to take part in educational activities in society. b.Self-administration. The inmate is responsible for his own daily life. Important elements of this approach are that food must be bought and cooked by the inmate to which end he is paid a fixed amount of money per day. The inmate is also responsible for his personal hygiene, clothes' laundry and repair. The prison encourages the inmates to make meaningful use of leisure hours by providing opportunity for sports and other structuralized activities. c. Release on parole and after-care. According to a provision of the Criminal Code more than 90% of the inmates are released on parole after having served two thirds of their sentences. Almost 10% of these will be released after serving between one half and two thirds of the time, due to special grounds. Royal pardon is possible according to the Constitution, but rare. Outside of imprisonment for life which necessitates the use of pardoning, royal pardon is more commonly used in connection with short-term sentences where the convicted cannot endure the prison stay because of severe illness or the like. In such cases the pardon is normally conditioned on the payment of a fine.
The probation and after-care system has local offices in about 30 towns all over the country. These offices attend to persons with suspended sentences on probation, parolees under supervision, and handles the supervision of certain mentally aberrant persons who have been sentenced to ambulant treatment. The serving of community service orders also rests with the probation and after-care system.
While serving his sentence the inmate is obliged to work for which he is paid a small hourly salary. The prison administration tries to ensure that the working places equate those found in modern society. In order to encourage inmates to educate themselves the same amount is paid to inmates who choose to go to the prison school instead of going to work. The prison provides health care and necessary dental care. Sick inmates will be hospitalized in ordinary hospitals. The criminal justice system of Denmark respects human rights pronounced in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Rome 1950, and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners as recommended by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 1987.
Denmark has entered into bilateral extradition treaties with the USA, Canada, Great Britain and Belgium. On a multilateral basis, Denmark has ratified the European Convention on extradition from 1957. Extradition to and from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden takes place according to similar laws passed in each country. Denmark has also ratified European conventions on transfer of criminals and criminal proceedings. As a consequence of special regulations the transfer of criminals as well as the transfer of criminal proceedings takes place on a regular basis inside Scandinavia. In contrast with extradition to other countries, the legislation on extradition inside Scandinavia does not exempt its own nationals from prosecution.
Prison conditions generally meet international standards. In July 2000, the U.N. Committee Against Torture criticized the Government for the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement and the length of time spent in isolation. For example, all prisoners who refused to participate in work programs were placed in solitary confinement. In response the Government revised prison rules on the length of solitary confinement permitted and the reasons for assigning solitary confinement. Under the new rules, the percentage of prisoners in solitary confinement dropped from 11.2 percent in 1999 to 7.6 percent in 2000. Men and women are held separately. The vast majority of juvenile offenders are not incarcerated, except for very violent juvenile offenders. Violent juvenile offenders between the ages of 15 and 17 may be sent to adult correctional facilities, but they are segregated from violent adult inmates. Pretrial detainees are held in remand centers, which also hold nonviolent convicted criminals serving sentences of 30 months or less. The Government permits visits by independent human rights monitors, and such visits occurred during the year 2001.
Violence against women is a problem, but the Government took steps to combat it. An umbrella nongovernmental organization (NGO) reports that in 2000, women's crisis shelters were contacted 8,825 times, compared with 8,439 times in 1999. A total of 2,083 women stayed at shelters during 2000, compared with 2,054 women in 1999. There were 477 reported rapes in 1999, 497 in 2000, and 243 during the first 6 months of the year. Rape, spousal abuse, and spousal rape are criminal offenses. Trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution has been a problem.
There is no societal pattern of abuse against children. In 1997 the Parliament passed legislation that banned the physical punishment of children by adults, including their parents.
TRAFFICKING IN PEOPLE
The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, but other laws have been used to prosecute traffickers; however, trafficking in women to the country for the purpose of prostitution is a problem. Most women were trafficked from Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, other countries of the former Soviet Union, and Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand. Some victims were lured by the prospect of higher wages and a better life but were forced into prostitution. Some traffickers reportedly withheld victims' passports. The perpetrators usually were suspected of being part of organized crime.
Laws prohibiting kidnapping and pimping were used by the Government to prosecute traffickers in several high-profile cases during the year 2001; however, sentences were light. In several cases, individuals were charged with violating laws on human smuggling and illegal sexual activity. Most of these cases involved women brought from Eastern Europe and Asia to work as prostitutes. In November 5 persons were convicted of smuggling 80 women from Baltic countries into Denmark to work as prostitutes. They received jail sentences of between 1 and 3 years. The authorities cooperate with international investigations.
The Commissioner of Police led a factfinding mission to the Baltic States in November 2000 and issued a report of the mission's findings in January, which recommended further study of the problem. In 2000 a regional conference on trafficking generated considerable public and parliamentary debate. In December 2000, the Government set up an interagency working group in the Ministry of Gender and Equality to address trafficking. An informal working group meets once per month and includes members from the Ministries of Justice, Social Affairs, Gender and Equality, Employment, and Education, as well as NGO's, to share information.
The Government does not provide medical or legal assistance directly to victims, and there is no governmental or nongovernmental entity specifically concerned with victims of trafficking. Several government-supported organizations provide services to victims on a case-by-case basis.
Internet research assisted by Dorinda Clements-Anyx, Lauren Cohen, and Angela N. Mihalopoulos