Posted on December 14, 2021

Former Immigration Minister in Denmark Sentenced to Prison for Separating Couples

Thomas Erdbrink and Jasmina Nielsen, New York Times, December 13, 2021

A Danish court of impeachment sentenced a former immigration minister known for her hard line stance against migrants to 60 days in prison, after she was found guilty of illegally ordering the separation of underage couples seeking asylum.

Judges presiding over the rare impeachment trial — the first in Denmark in 26 years — found that the former minister, Inger Stojberg, had intentionally neglected her ministerial duties by ordering the separation of the couples in 2016, the verdict said.

Ms. Stojberg, 48, promoted harsh migration policies for Denmark that were held up as examples by populist leaders and right-wing parties advocating tougher measures in many European countries.

Her contentious tenure as Denmark’s immigration minister included taking out advertisements in Lebanese media warning potential migrants to stay away; planning to house unwanted foreigners on a hard-to-reach Danish island; and celebrating the passage of anti-immigration policies with a cake.


Ms. Stojberg was the minister of immigration and integration from 2015 to 2019 under a previous center-right government. Legislators will now decide whether she can continue to serve as a member of the 179-seat Folketing, the Danish Parliament.

At the center of the trial was a statement Ms. Stojberg issued in 2016, after extensive coverage in the Danish media about so-called “child brides” at asylum centers, that the Danish Immigration Service was going to separate asylum-seekers in marriages where one person was underage, even if they had children. Some 23 couples, many of whom had fled to Denmark to escape wars in Syria and Iraq, were subsequently separated by immigration officials.