Denmark’s ex-immigration minister was jailed for ordering couples seeking asylum to be divorced if they were minors in an effort to end child marriage.

  • Inger Stoejberg was convicted Monday by a rarely-used impeachment court
  • The Danish parliament approved her trial over the 2016 Order.
  • An appointed commission by parliament ruled that the severing of married couples was “clearly illegal”.
  • Her sentence was to be held for 60 days by an impeachment tribunal

Denmark’s former immigration minister is in jail for ordering couples seeking asylum to be separated when one of them was minor, as part of a campaign to eliminate child marriage. 

A rarely used impeachment court convicted Inger Stoejberg  to 60 days in prison on Monday after the Danish parliament voted to try her over the 2016 order.

The vote came after a parliament-appointed commission said that separating couples in asylum centres was ‘clearly illegal’ and that staff members in her ministry had warned her the practice was unlawful. 

A rarely used impeachment court convicted Inger Stoejberg (pictured, file photo) on Monday after Danish parliament voted to try her over the order that was given in 2016

Inger Stoejberg, convicted in an impeachment trial that is rarely used (photo: file photo), was found guilty Monday by the Danish Parliament after it voted to have her tried over the 2016 order.

The Court of Impeachment was convened to examine charges against Ms Stoejberg for the first-time in 26 years. Her innocence was maintained throughout the trial, which started on September 2.

She was convicted of “intentionally, or through gross negligence” neglecting her duties and misleading parliament with inaccurate or misleading information.

The court sentenced her for 60 days. The former minister was not sentenced to jail. She would also be given an electronic monitoring bracelet so that she could serve her sentence from home.

Jon Lauritzen, the prosecutor said it was not important to determine if it has been two months or four. “It was crucial that she was found guilty of intent.” 

This verdict is final and cannot be challenged.

Following the court’s decision, Ms Stoejberg was presented with flowers by supporters. Rene Offersen, the defense lawyer, called it “a disappointing outcome”.

Four times, she was charged with misleading the parliamentary committees while informing them of her separation policy as minister.

The decision of whether to continue as Folketing member in the 179-seat capacity will be made by fellow politicians.

In the previous center-right government of Denmark, Ms Stoejberg held the position of minister for immigration integration and housing between 2015 and 2019.

Pictured: Failed asylum seekers wait in rural Danish departure centre in 2019 (file photo)

Pictured: Failed asylum seekers wait in rural Danish departure centre in 2019 (file photo)

As an immigrant hardliner Ms Stoejberg was responsible for tightening immigration and asylum rules. 

In 2016, a law was passed that required asylum-seekers who had recently arrived to the country to surrender any valuables, such as gold and jewellery to pay their fees.

According to Ms Stoejberg, she started the separation policy for minors and their partners because of fears that the relationships might have led to forced marriages. Before the policy was stopped, 23 couples had been split.

The women who were separated from their partners were mostly between the ages of 15-17, and the men between the ages of 15-32. 

The majority of the couple were from Syria. Officials claimed that there were some couples who arrived in Denmark as children, or when the women was still pregnant.

The legal age for marriage in Denmark is 18. Under-18-year-old women in Denmark consent to being married.

Last used by the Court of Impeachment in 1995, it adjudicates instances in which ministers have been accused of misconduct or misuse of office.

Erik Ninn Hansen, former justice minister from Sri Lanka was sentenced to a four month suspended term for preventing Sri Lankan refugees being allowed to bring their families to Denmark.

This court is composed of 15 judges from the supreme court and 15 other members who were appointed by Parliament. The court was established in 1849 and has been involved in five cases. Ms Stoejberg is the latest to be convicted.