Dane fights for Greenland prisoners

A Danish prison inspector has spoken out about the practice of sending Greenlandic inmates to Danish gaols, claiming it contravenes their human rights to maintain close ties with their families.

Hans Jørgen Elbo argues that Denmark would probably lose a case in the European Court of Human Rights if the Greenlanders serving sentences at Herstedvester Prison made a stand.

As Greenland currently has no permanent jails, around 20 inmates have been sent to Herstedvester. Prisoners have been housed in Denmark since 1952, and the construction of Greenland’s first prison is still to be completed after various setbacks since 2007.

Elbo was publicly reprimanded for his comments by Annette Esdorf, deputy CEO of the prison service (Kriminalforsorgen), at a meeting last week. He is unrepentant, however, claiming no one has been able to prove that the practice does not violate the prisoners’ rights.

Speaking to Politiken, Peter Scharff Smith of the human rights Institute for Menneskerettigheder, said he agrees with the inspector.

“Being forcibly removed thousands of miles from your family is undeniably an aggressive measure that conflicts with the right to a family life that is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said.

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