Press release

Denmark’s Plan to Rebrand its Racist “Ghetto Package” Will Cause More Housing Evictions

March 19, 2021
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This week, the Danish Minister of the Interior and Housing announced plans to introduce a requirement to reduce the share of persons of “non-Western background” in designated areas to a maximum of 30 percent within ten years, while scrapping the controversial term of “ghettos,” from its existing legislation in the government’s so-called Ghetto Package.

Thousands across Denmark face eviction under the existing legislation, even at a time when the United Nations has called for a ban on housing evictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2018, the Danish government announced the so-called Ghetto Package, a set of harsh laws and policies in low-income, largely minority neighborhoods. The neighborhoods targeted under the plan must be 50 percent or more residents of “non-Western” background, as defined by the State. One piece of the legislation sought to reduce common family housing in so-called tough ghettos to 40 percent by 2030.

This week’s new proposal simply replaces the term “ghetto” with “parallel societies,” but also increases the number of areas covered by the legislation and includes a requirement to reduce those of “non-Western background” to a maximum of 30 percent within ten years.

On April 6, the Danish parliament will hold a debate on the existing legislation, which is required by law after Danish civil society received 50,000 signatures.

Susheela Math of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said, “Denmark is finally considering dropping the term “ghetto,” over a year after the current Housing Minister admitted that it is derogatory. However, this is simply a cosmetic change. Rather than heeding the calls of UN monitoring bodies to abandon the policy that they deem as discriminatory, stigmatising and marginalising, this shocking new proposal further entrenches it. Now, the Danish Parliament has an opportunity not only to rethink and repeal the existing “Ghetto Package,” but to also put an end to the escalation of laws and policies based on discrimination.”

 In May of 2020, 12 Copenhagen residents filed a lawsuit against the Danish Ministry of Transport and Housing seeking a declaration that its approval of a development plan passed under the legislation is unlawful under EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The plaintiffs—with support from the Open Society Justice Initiative, along with Danish partners Eddie Omar Rosenberg Khawaja from Jacobsen & Khawaja Law Firm and Almen Modstand—claim that the state-approved plan to evict them from housing violates their rights to equality, respect for home, property, and freedom to choose their own residence.

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