Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1992

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with a tradition of democratic parliamentary
rule. Queen Maivrethe II is titular Head of State. The Cabinet, accountable
to the unicameral Folketing (parliament), leads the (jlovemment. A minority coalition
led by F*rime Minister Poul Schlueter has governed since 1982.
Denmark has a unified national police. Its higher ranks are often Hlled with lawyers
on internal rotation from the civil service. It is fully controlled by and responsible
to civilian authorities.
An advanced industrial state, Denmark has a mixed economy combining private
and public ownership. The Government is seeking ways to reduce the public sector's
share of the economy. Personal freedoms and the right to pursue private interests
and to hold private property are protected by law andrespected in practice.
Deeply rooted democratic principles, an egalitarian tradition, a lively press, and
highly developed educational and social welfare systems have made Denmark a
leading defender of human rights in the world. Anyone may protest to an Ombudsman,
established by the Folketing as mandated by the Constitution, if he or she
feels wrongly treated by any national or municipal authority.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing.
Such killings did not occur.
      b. Disappearance.
^There were no abductions or disappearances.
c. TorUire and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.—
Such practices are prohibited by law. Torture does not occur. Allegations of inhuman
treatment are rare, and there are legal means of redress when it occurs. Two cases
alleging excessive use of police force against African tourists were investigated; the
result was a 1992 court finding that lorce was used, but that it was not done to
f^ain information or a confession, or to punish, frighten, or coerce. Finally, the court
ound that the force was not used as a manifestation of discrimination.
An innovative Center for Torture Victims (from abroad) at a Copenhagen hospital,
supported bv the Foreign Ministiy, treats patients, assists torture victims, and studies
ways to hinder the use of torture worldwide.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
No person may be deprived of personal
liberty without due process of law. Hiose arrested must appear before a judge with760
in 24 hours. A judge may order that they be held in pretrial detention, including
detention in isolation, for a period up to the length of the prison sentence for the
crime for which they were arrested. All accused have the right to obtain their own
attorney or a public attorney. Bail is allowed. There is no exile.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Danish judicial system consists of a series of
courts, local and regional, up to the Supreme Court. Trials are usually public; judges
may make exceptions, e.g., in paternity and divorce cases. In criminal cases, trials
are closed when necessary to protect a victim's privacy, such as in rape cases, or
to safeguard a witness' identity.
The rights of the accused are carefully protected. Defendants have the right to be
present, to confront witnesses, and to present evidence. They eiyoy the presumption
of innocence. Both the defendant and the prosecution may appeal a sentence. The
judiciary is fully independent. Judges appointed by the Minister of Justice serve
until age 70. They may not be dismissea out may be impeached for negligence or
criminal acts. There are no political prisoners.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
constitutional prohibition against searching homes, seizing papers, and breaching
the secrecy of communications without a court order is respected.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
An independent press, an effective judiciary,
and a democratic political system ensure freeoom of speech and press. There is one
lai^e state-owned radio and television company. Editorial control is exercised by a
board independent of the Government. A second national television channel is onethird
government subsidized. In both cases, management decides programming content,
but operational decisions are restricted by government mandate. Programs
critical of the Government appear on both channels. The growing popularity ofcable
television and satellite dishes has greatly increased access to loreign news broadcasts.
The state radio operates the only normal watt{^ stations. The Government has
said it will favorably consider an independent nationwide radio station. Private stations
are otherwise restricted to transmitters of 10 watts for radio or 100 watts for
television. Direct relay transmission of forei^ radio broadcasts such as those of the
Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation is prohibited, although
both are carried on the cable net.
Publications, including books and newspapers, reflect a wide variety of political
opinion. Academic freedom is respected.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Danes may freely assemble
and form associations. Public meetings require permits, which are routinely given.
Any oi^anization may affiliate with international bodies in its field.
      c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for religious freedom. The
Evangelical Lutheran Church is the state churcn and is state supported. No religion
is banned or discouraged; conversion is unrestricted. No one may be discrinunated
against for relinous beliefs.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country. Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation.—
Danes have fuU freedom of travel and movement. Persons determined
to be political refugees are never repatriated against their will. However, the Government
decided in 1991 to start repatriating persons who had been unsuccessful
in claiming political asylum. In 1991, over 100 Palestinians aflected by this decision
took refuge in a state church to protest the decision. The situation was resolved this
year when a special law was passed by the Folketing letting the Palestinians stay,
but making clear that others denied fisylum would be returned to their homelands.
A large influx of asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia began in September
1992; Denmark's financial and logistical resources are being stretched to help absorb
the new arrivals. By year's end about 14,000 new asylum seekers had entered
Denmark. This was more than three times as many as came last year, and significantly
more than came in the previous record years of the mid-1980's (the era of
the Iran-Iraq war). The Minister of Justice is considering a reexamination of the
country's liberal asylum rules with a view to restricting the inflow of asylees.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right (^Citizens to Change Their Government
Danes have the ri^t to change their government peacefully. Ministers are responsible
to the Folketing and may be removed by a vote of no confidence. The
IMme Minister is appointed by the Queen after consultation with parties in the
Folketinff. Parliamentary elections must take place every 4 years, or earlier by decision
of tne Prime Minister, a parliamentary vote of no confidence, or the Government's
resignation. The Folketing's 179 members are chosen in free and open elec761
tions under a complex system of proportional representation designed to help small
parties and to reflect tne popular vote. Twelve parties ran in the 1990 election;
eight, with a wide range of political views, achieved the minimum 2 percent of the
vote needed to obtain seats. The current Government is a two-party minority coalition.
Danes over 18 years of age may vote. Foreigners who are permanent residents
may both vote and run in local elections; they hold 13 city council seats nationwide.
Women head 4 ministries and hold 56 seats in the Parliament. There are no restrictions,
in law or in practice, on the participation of women in government or politics.
The territories of Greenland (which has a primarily Inuit population) and the
Faroe Islands (whose inhabitants have their own language) nave democratically
elected home rule governments with broad powers encompassing all but foreign £md
security affairs. Greenlanders and Faroese are Danish citizens and ei\joy the same
human rights as in Denmark. Each territory elects two representatives to the
Section 4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation
ofAlleged Violations ofHuman Rights
Domestic human rights organizations operate freely. The Danish Center for
Human Rights, a govemment-mnded institution, conducts research and provides Information
on human rights. Denmark is party to various international human rights
conventions that promote and protect human rights.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
The extensive state welfare system ensures that every member of Danish society
regardless of race, religion, sex, age, or ethnic background is provided with food[,
shelter, health care, and education. Qiildren in Denmark are protected by law; parents
are required to protect children from physical and psychological abuse. The authorities
act quickly to protect children from actually or potentially abusive or neglectful
The rights of the people in Greenland and the Faroe Islands are well protected.
Greenlandic law is specially designed for Inuit customs. It provides for tne use of
local people, rather than outsiders, as judges. There are holding centers—rather
than prisons—whose inmates are encouraged to work, hunt, or fish during the day.
Despite a recent high level of violence and murders in Greenland, the Government
rejected suggestions that the treatment of criminals be made more severe. '
The inflow of ethnically and racially dissimilar refugees and immigrants (mostly
Iranians, Palestinians, and Sri Lankans, but in late 1992, overwhelmingly former
Yugoslavians) has provoked tensions between Danes and immigrants. Incidents of
random racially motivated violence occur. The Government effectively investigates
and deals with all cases of racially motivated violence. In a major case, the Supreme
Court rejected racial and ethnic quotas in public housing. Towns may no longer
limit the number of immigrants who can live in a building. Proponents claimed me
policy prevented ghettos, while opponents thought it was discriminatory.
Denmark places no restrictions on the participation of women in the civilian work
force. Women hold positions of authority throughout society, including in politics,
though they are much less represented at the top of the business world. Some 76
percent of all women between 16 and 66 years old work; 46 percent of the woric force
IS female, whUe 22 percent of all supervisors are women. Wage inequality exists,
but wages are generally hi^ for both women and men.
Danish authorities do not tolerate, in law or in practice, violence or abuse against
women or children. Crimes against women and children are considered serious and
are vigorously investigated. Experts estimate, however, that very few cases of domestic
violence are reported. Denmark has no programs for the prevention of rape
and domestic violence, but there are 30 crisis centers for counseling and housing victims
which are supported by local governments, volunteer woikers, and donations.
In addition, Denmark's first center for abused men and its first shelter for abused
families opened in 1991.
Section 6. Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
The law states that all workers, including military
personnel and the police, may form or join unions of their choosing. Approximately
80 percent of Danish wage earners belong to unions, which are inaependent of the
(jovemment and political parties. The Danish Federation of Trade Unions (LO),
which includes about half of the country's work force, remains closely associated
with the Social Democratic Party. Over the years there have been a few—but widely
reported—incidents in which workers who joined trade unions not aflUiated with the
LO were harassed or rejected by members of the mainstream unions in the work-
Slaoe. All but civil servants have the right to strike. The number of workdays lost
ue to labor conflicts in 1991 was 1(X),979. Unions may freely affiliate with inter762
national organizations and do so actively. Greenland and the Faroes have the same
respect for worker ri^ts, including full &eedom of association, as Denmaric.
b. The Right to Orsanize and Bargain CoUectivdy.—Woriters and employers acknowledge
each others ri^t to oiiganize. Collective oargaining is widespread. In the
private sector, salaries, benefits, and working conditions are agreed upon in biennial
negotiations between the various employers' associations and the union counterparts.
In the event of a stalemate, the Federation of Danish Employers' Associations
and the LO will conduct these negotiations. If the negotiations fail, a national conciliation
board tasked with mediating labor contracts mediates, and its proposal is
voted on by both mfinageinent and labor. If the proposal is turned down, the Govis
conducted between the public sector employees' unions and government representatives,
led by Uie Finance Ministry.
Labor relations in Greenland, a beneficiary of the Generalized Systena of Preferences,
are conducted in the same manner as in Denmark. Working conditions are
negotiated throu^ collective bargaining, usually led by the largest Greenlandic
union, SIK, which has about 8,000 members, virtually the entire indigenous work
force. In disputes, Greenlandic courts are the first recourse, but Danish mediation
services or the Danish Labor Court may also be used.
In the Faroes, there are several important unions, but there is no umbrella labor
organization. Labor relations in principle are a matter between management and
labor. Between them, they decide on salaries, wages, and terms of employment.
Should the parties not be able to readi an agreement, a mediator is called in to resolve
the dispute. Faroese legislation exists to regulate conditions of apprenticeship,
cost-of-living adjustments to negotiated wages, minimum wages in the fisheries sector,
length of the workweek, and annual vacations.
There are no export processing zones.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited
and does not exist.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The minimum age for full-time
employment is 15. The law prescribes specific limitations on the employment of
those between 15 and 18 years of age, and it is enforced by the Agency for Supervision
of Labor Standards, an autonomous arm of the Ministry of Labor.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no legally mandated national minimum
wage, but the lowest wage in any national labor agreement is suflicient for
a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Danish law provides for 5 weeks
of paid vacation, and a 37-hour workweek is generally applied. Danish law prescribes
conditions of woik, including safety and health; duties of employers, supervisors,
and employees; work performance; rest periods and days off; and medical examinations.
The Labor Inspection Service ensures compliance with labor legislation.
Workers may remove themselves from hazardous situations without jeopardizing
their employment, and there are legal protections for workers who file complaints
about unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Similar conditions of work are found in Greenland and the Faroes, except that
their workweek remains at 40 hours, and there is no publicly supported unemployment
insurance available. Unemployment benefits in both places are either contained
in the labor contract agreements or come from the general social security system.
Sick pay and maternity pay, as in Denmaik, fall under the social security system.