In a plan to eradicate ghettos areas in the Scandinavian nation, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has proposed the implementation of double punishments for crimes committed within listed areas. Rasmussen’s coalition government currently designates 22 ‘ghetto’ areas, that consist of mostly non-native, immigrant and refugee populations.
The new double punishment plan will allow police officers jurisdiction over which zones receive harsher punishment as a result of frequent crimes. Police officers will also be able to decide whether double punishment should be applied to illegal misconduct with justification. Punishable offences include vandalism, theft, and violent crimes.
Other aspects of Rasmussen’s plan may result in the people who reside in ghetto areas finding themselves on the ends of more understated violence. New legislation will also allow house owners to evict tenants convicted of crimes faster than before, in addition to granting municipalities greater accessibility of information on ghetto area residents. Citizens who receive welfare stipends from the Danish government will not be permitted to migrate to ghetto areas while receiving support.
This new plan, called “One Denmark Without Parallel Societies: No Ghettos in 2030,” was supposedly proposed by Rasmussen as an effort to change the demographics of ghetto areas.
The Danish Prime Minister emphasizes his concern of a united Denmark to the Politiken newspaper.
“It concerns me deeply that we might not be able to come together around Denmark. We should be able to recognize our country. There are places where I don’t recognize what I’m seeing,” Rasmussen says, according to The Local Denmark.
From its exterior, the plan is simply an effort to reduce crime rates and maintain safety. However, the motivations behind this policy are transparent, given the widespread anti-immigrant sentiment that has been fueled by the rise of immigrant youth-based gang violence and the refugee crisis, resulting in tightened immigration policy to become a cornerstone of Danish politics.
Integration or sowing division?
Few factors govern the designation of the title ‘ghetto’ to an underprivileged area. According to the BBC, areas are labelled as ghetto if the resident population of the area are seen as 50% non-Western immigrant, more than 2.7% have criminal convictions, unemployment is above 40%, more than 50% have only a basic education, or average gross income is less than 55% of the average for the region.
In a country whose immigration population is 10 percent, the double punishment plan runs the risk of deteriorating the principle of rule of law by applying uneven laws in processes that are enforced unfairly. Citizens of ghetto areas would no longer find themselves fundamentally entitled to equality. Those already vulnerable living in underprivileged and impoverished areas would find themselves unequal before the law.
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