Download Annual Report 2011 here - Danish Institute for Human ...

Download Annual Report 2011 here - Danish Institute for Human ...






































133 recommendations to Denmark

The Arab Spring – a new beginning

Human rights spreading in West Africa

Human Rights on the agenda of Public


‘Product labelling’ of public services

Pressure for an improved justice system

in Rwanda

Equal opportunities regardless of gender

Human rights on the timetable

Theme: Why are inmates not allowed to

attend religious services?

Theme: Concern about the age of

criminal responsibility

Businesses are important human rights


Ready to fight for rights in Bangladesh

and Turkmenistan

A new Danish website dedicated to the

Disability Convention

Cross-border research

The Danish authorities follow DIHR’s

recommendations on stateless persons

Discrimination is a problem in Denmark

New guidelines on counter-terrorism

Help to children who live with HIV in


Fruitful cooperation between

government agencies and civil society

Synergies of Danish human rights


Financial highlights



At the beginning of 2011 DIHR was entrusted

with the tasks of furthering and monitoring the

implementation of the Disability Convention

and acting as the national equality body on

gender issues in Denmark. The Institute

received a grant of DKK 10m for these activities.

The new incumbent government after the

general election in Denmark in September

2011 put focus on human rights and decided

to include the strengthening of DIHR in

its government platform. The Institute will

therefore be a fully independent institution

as from 2012, and the appropriation for the

Institute for 2012 will be increased by DKK 10m.

We consider the strengthening of DIHR a

recognition of our strategic development in

recent years. We have refined our working

methods. We have clarified our role. And we

have tried to better rank our actions according

to priority.

We are therefore happy that both the former and

the current Governments have strengthened the

Institute in their individual ways.

Unfortunately, 2011 was also the year in

which we discovered hidden financial losses

on international projects in the period 1997-

2008. Financial losses on selected projects

of DKK 3.2m had not been accounted for in

the financial statements of the relevant years.

That should never have happened. However, by

being efficient and making dedicated efforts in

By Jonas


Executive Director

2011 we managed to settle nearly all old debts.

We must continue to work intensively with

our internal procedures and control to have a

transparent financial system. It was a serious

matter, but we are ready to move on.

The international activities of the Institute

yielded good results in 2011. Our projects

in China, West Africa, Afghanistan, Rwanda

and Ethiopia were praised in independent

evaluations. We have made efforts to improve

the conditions of marginalised children with

HIV in Ethiopia, and we have contributed to

improving the access to justice for poor people

in Rwanda, to strengthening civil society in West

Africa and to reducing violence against women

in the Herat Province of Afghanistan. And not

least, we have provided training for authorities

and individuals to empower them to promote

human rights in their individual regions. These

are just a few examples of our extensive

international commitment.

If we turn our eyes towards domestic issues,

2011 will be remembered for being the year of

the first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of

Denmark. Denmark had to answer questions

asked by the United Nations Human Rights

Council (UNHRC) within all aspects of human

rights. The Institute played an active role in the

process before, during and after the meetings

at the United Nations. We cooperated closely

with both the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

and several NGOs. And as the only national



human rights institution in the world we

organised a hearing – independently of the

Government – among other public institutions

working with human rights, such as the

Danish Parliament, the judiciary and the three

ombudsmen in Denmark and Greenland and on

the Faroe Islands.

The UPR process contributed to clarifying the

lack of a systematic overview of the human

rights situation in Denmark. Towards the end of

2011 we therefore initiated the largest mapping

of the human rights situation ever made in

Denmark. The preliminary fi ndings will be

disclosed in our next status report in May 2012.

We hope that this status report will pave the

way for a fruitful discussion on human rights

in Denmark. It is our hope that the Universal

Periodic Review, to be made again in 2015,

will become a new platform for human rights



The Danish Parliament discussed the role of

DIHR in May 2011 because a motion limiting the

DIHR mandate had been proposed. Minister

for Foreign Affairs Lene Espersen stated: “It is

my impression that the [Danish Institute for

Human Rights] in general delivers solid work

substantiated by research, even though the

Government may not always agree in all the

conclusions. The Institute is independent,

which is a strength. I would have had much

greater concerns if the Institute agreed with

the Government all the time.” The debate

refl ected an overall political support for DIHR,

whose mandate was extended in 2011.

In 2012 we will also celebrate the 25th

anniversary of the Institute. A democracy

needs a professionally strong and independent

national human rights organisation. I look

forward to heading the continued development

of the Institute in the coming years.

The domicile of the Danish Institute for

Human Rights at the Copenhagen water




A new Chairman was elected for the Board

of the Danish Institute for Human Rights in

2011: Ole Hartling, MD, Senior Consultant. He

has previously been a member of the Council

for Human Rights as a representative of the

Danish Red Cross, and he has also been a

member of the Ethical Council of the Danish



The 350th anniversary of the Danish Supreme

Court was celebrated in the ceremonial

hall of the University of Copenhagen on 14

February 2011. The presentation of the jubilee

publication about the Supreme Court was

attended by several members of the Royal

Family, the judiciary, the Government and

Parliament and key players in the legal system.



Aliaksandr Bialiatski was awarded the Danish

Politiken Freedom Prize in November 2011.

The winner was not able to receive the prize

himself as he is in prison in Minsk. The Politiken

Freedom Prize is awarded once a year to a

person or an organisation fighting for freedom

rights under difficult conditions somewhere in

the world. The Executive Director of DIHR is

Medical Association (Lægeforeningen).

Furthermore, Mr Hartling has been the Danish

representative at the United Nations Human

Rights Commission in Geneva. He is a member

of the Medical Group of Amnesty International

Denmark. From 2003 to 2007 he chaired the

Danish Council of Ethics (Det Etiske Råd).

Jonas Christoffersen, Executive Director of

DIHR, had been asked to make a speech on the

role of the Supreme Court in a globalised legal

order. Mr Christoffersen emphasised the active

role of the Supreme Court in monitoring the

implementation of human rights and pointed to

the need for public and political ownership of

human rights.

a member of the Freedom Prize Committee.

Mr Bialiatski and the Belarusian human rights

centre Viasna (spring) received the prize for

their fight for freedom rights in a country in

which human rights violations and political

pressure have become everyday occurrences.

Jonas Christoffersen, Executive Director of

DIHR, delivered the award speech.





How is Denmark doing in the human

rights field? This was assessed by

the United Nations Human Rights

Council (UNHCR) in the spring of

2011. The UNHCR made a total of 133

recommendations for improved human

rights practices in Denmark.

The human rights situation of all Member

States of the United Nations is to be examined

by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The

purposes are to examine whether the states are

complying with the human rights and to point

to areas in which the individual state can afford

its citizens better rights.

On 2 May 2011, it was Denmark’s turn to have

its human rights record scrutinised as part of

the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Even

though Denmark was criticised on a number of

essential points, the UNHCR also expressed


espect for Denmark as one of the countries

upholding the human rights principles.

“It was a pleasure to hear that so many

countries had in fact made themselves familiar

with the situation in Denmark in the human

rights field,” stated Jonas Christoffersen,

Executive Director of DIHR.

One of the tasks of DIHR during the UPR

process was to organise public hearings in

Denmark before the review itself in Geneva.

These hearings allowed NGOs and individuals


The Liberal-Conservative Danish Government

rejected 49 and accepted 84 of the 133

recommendations to Denmark. Some of the

recommendations were:

1. Denmark should review its body of

legislation prohibiting discrimination to

ensure equal protection on all grounds, and

in this regard, consider elaborating a single

comprehensive act covering all grounds for

possible discrimination.

2. Denmark should develop and implement a

national action plan for human rights.

3. Denmark should implement an action

plan to enhance the rights of persons with


4. Denmark should sign and ratify the

Optional Protocols to the International

Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural

Rights and the Convention on the Rights

of Persons with Disabilities. The Optional

Protocols give individuals the right to

complain to the United Nations of alleged

Convention violations.

By March 2012, none of the four

recommendations had been met by

Denmark yet. For further information


an opportunity to suggest areas that needed to

be strengthened in Denmark.

“We submitted our own assessment of the

human rights situation in Denmark, and we

also made brief overviews of a large number

of documents to create greater clarity. We also

noticed that it was clear from several of the

recommendations that the assessments and

recommendations from DIHR had been read,”

observes Mr Christoffersen.






The Arab rebellions were motivated by an urge for freedom, equality and human

dignity. That added new dimensions to the activities of DIHR to improve civil society,

the conditions of citizens and governmental structures in the Middle East and North

Africa and made these activities highly relevant in 2011.

In 2011, activists from all layers of society in

Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and later on also Yemen

rebelled against authoritative regimes, which

had for decades frozen the development

process and undermined citizens’ dignity,

freedom and possibility of realising their

individual human potential.

“The price may seem high, but by insisting on

our right to self-determination I experienced

for the first time ever a feeling of human dignity

and self-esteem,” said Ezzaddin Al’sbahy,

who is the chairman of the Human Rights

Information and Training Centre (HRITC), the

Yemenite Partner of DIHR, at a meeting in

Copenhagen in June 2011 following several

months of demonstrations and assaults on


“ Today about 100 countries

have their own national

human rights institutions.

The NHRIs have an

enormous inherent potential

for supporting the national

dialogue on the fundamental

values of society”

By Charlotte

Flindt Pedersen,

Deputy Director

This manifestation of freedom as a

fundamental human need changed global

dynamics forever and reaffirmed the relevance

of human rights to everybody. It is obvious that

the Arab revolutions did not solve all problems.

The long, slow haul to achieve human dignity

for everyone and genuinely democratic

governments still has to be taken.


The former Soviet republics, whose totalitarian

regimes broke down 20 years ago, are evident

examples illustrating that it is a rather slow

process to create democracy. Democracy

does not emerge all of a sudden, but has to

be demanded by populations again and again,

inspired and supported by movements in and

experience from other countries.

Democracy is fundamentally about creating

a system and a culture of surrendering and

delegating power voluntarily. A system in which

government power is monitored by the media

and by citizens, courts and other independent

instances; a system in which it is natural to

negotiate and make compromises and to

involve citizens in dialogue on the current and

future society.


This process will take time in countries which

have to deal with huge economic challenges,

considerable differences in income levels and

wealth, strong traditional power structures,

differences between rural and urban

communities, genders, tribes and religions, etc.

DIHR committed itself to this work in 2011 and

intends to continue its contribution to this long,

slow haul towards stability and democracy.


The world is becoming ever more integrated

and interdependent. DIHR has enhanced its

collaboration with other national human rights

institutions, which are the UN hubs of activities

to promote human rights at the national level.

Today about 100 countries have their own

national human rights institutions. The

NHRIs have an enormous inherent potential

for supporting the national dialogue on the

fundamental values of society.

DIHR is one of the oldest NHRIs in the world,

and we feel a special duty to contribute to

the development of this potential, whether

by collaborating directly with other NHRIs,

including in the Arab world, or through the

International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs

(ICC), which collaborates with the United

Nations Office of the High Commissioner for

Human Rights.

During dialogue with our partners, we are again

and again reminded of the unique potential

that we have all over the world as a Danish

institution. We have the possibility of adding

a real difference to the populations wanting a

new beginning after decades of suppression.

The Arab Spring in 2011 gave us a popular

mandate to contribute to improved human

rights and democracy in the Arab world – a

mandate that DIHR will do its best also to fulfil

in future as well.





Despite considerable social changes

and unrest in West Africa, human rights

are seeing significant progress in parts

of the region. DIHR has supported

efforts to improve conditions in the

region since 2007, and the first phase of

this project finished in 2011

Judges, police officers and security forces in

Niger are being trained in human rights. The

Human Rights Ministry in Burkina Faso has

been strengthened. And in Mali, the first official

report on the national human rights situation

has just been released.

Human rights are spreading in one of the most

unstable regions in Africa.

“We mainly focused on Mali, Niger and Burkina

Faso during the first period, but also had a few

activities in Benin and Senegal. The aim was

to deal institutions and people in the region

already working towards improved human

rights a better hand,” explains Monique Alexis,

the Regional Strategic Coordinator at the West

Africa Unit of DIHR.

Ms Alexis and Lisbet Ilkjær, Senior Legal and

Strategic Adviser of DIHR, have focused on what

she refers to as ‘helping the region to help itself’.

“Our task is not at all just to go out and inform

everybody about their rights. Rather, we have

to help human rights defenders, organisations

and authorities who already have the drive

and capacity to act to become even better at

promoting human rights within their own areas,”

she states.

DIHR has therefore contributed to building the

capacity of local organisations and networks

which will continue promoting human rights.

The Institute has also trained human rights

volunteers to develop their presentational

skills. And all these results are essential

according to Ms Ilkjær.

“It means that volunteers and civil society will

be in a better position to support others and

put human rights on the agenda. But to an

increasing extent also authorities in several

of these countries take into account the rights

of citizens. This is crucial in order to achieve a

long-term effect that will make a difference to

the individual citizen,” she ends.

More details about the activities of DIHR

in West Africa and the results achieved are

available at





DIHR was there when the island of Bornholm

hosted the first politicians’ festival ever in

Denmark (the Public Meeting).

At the 2011 Public Meeting, DIHR attracted

focus to the human rights situation in Denmark.

What are the greatest challenges in today’s

society, and what do the Danish politicians

intend to do about them?

DIHR asked the participants at the Public

Meeting which of 20 different problems

they currently perceived to be the greatest

challenges to Denmark. Old-age pensioners,

police officers, school classes, politicians and

many other people considered this question.

The outcome of this ‘public vote’ – which

pointed to children’s rights and human

trafficking as some of the greatest challenges

in today’s Danish society – was subsequently

used for an introduction to a political debate

on the human rights situation in Denmark. The

debate was held in the village of Allinge. Some

of the politicians who crossed swords about the

proper human rights focus were Peter Skaarup

of the right-wing Danish People’s Party (Dansk

Folkeparti), Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen of the

left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten)

and Jeppe Kofod of the Social Democratic Party


“We had some highly fruitful days on the island.

Not just because we managed to pose relevant

and critical questions to both citizens and

politicians, but also because we met people

and discussed what essential problems the

country faces today. In this way we received

very useful input for our work,” says Jonas

Christoffersen, Executive Director of DIHR, who

also attended the event.

Further information and a short film about our

involvement in the 2011 Public Meeting can be

seen at (in Danish).




About 1,100 votes were cast at the Public

Meeting. Each person had thee votes.

Most votes were cast on:

• Children’s rights

Human trafficking

• Violence against women and children

• Asylum-seekers and their children




DIHR has contributed to making public institutions in Malawi specify the exact service

level that can be expected by citizens and ensure access to complaints procedures if

the service level is not met. The document describing the services is called a service


“In brief, a service charter is an official

document in which a public institution specifies

the services provided and the specific standards

guaranteed by the relevant institution as well

as the complaints mechanisms in place,”

explains Jakob Kirkemann Boesen, Department

Director. He continues: “The standards are

the cornerstone of a service charter. They

describe for both the service provider and

service recipients in a simple, specific and

comprehensible manner what the users

(service recipients) may claim.”

DIHR has contributed to a pilot project for three

districts in Malawi on the development of service

charters setting out standards and processes

building on human rights. When the Malawi

Government subsequently decided to develop

service charters for all ministries and districts

in the country, DIHR was asked to become

a partner. DIHR has also been involved in a

national information campaign in newspapers

and on the radio about service charters.

Within the educational field, a service charter

may define the right to education. For example

when national authorities draw up national

standards for the maximum number of pupils

in each class. Such standards make it easier for

local citizens to claim that right and follow the

standards for pupil-teacher ratio, the number of

textbooks, chairs, tables, blackboards, etc., to

make the local standards approach the national

level over time.

“Service charters empower citizens to claim their

rights, and citizens are also involved to a greater

extent in bringing about genuine improvement

as a consequence of the service charters,” says

Mads Thau Loftager, Human Rights Officer and

International Adviser. He also mentions another

example from the health sector in the Ntchisi

Province, which looked at emergency response

times. It turned out that the province had an

urgent need for ambulances if emergency

crews were to reach victims within the standard

response times set out in the service charter.

Consequently the district was granted an

ambulance. That resulted specifically in an

improved right to health.

A third example originates from the legal field.

A service charter for the Salima District sets

out the right to a fair trial. The purpose of this

standard is to prevent a large number of police

officers from asking for a bribe to accept a report

of crime and offer assistance in criminal cases.







The Rwandan Government is in the

process of implementing a national

action plan to give everybody in the

conflict-ridden society access to

legal aid. This is a consequence of a

recommendation made by the Legal

Aid Forum, a network established with

support from DIHR.

For the past seven years, DIHR has supported

the creation of the Legal Aid Forum in Rwanda.

The purpose of the network is to provide legal

assistance to the thousands of people in need

of legal aid, particularly in the wake of the

genocide in 1994 when more than 800,000

people were killed. Also new social challenges,

such as disputes on land rights, succession

rights and family law, make the need for legal

aid in Rwanda particularly urgent.

“The network has succeeded in involving the

Rwandan Ministry of Justice and other Rwandan

authorities in the development of a national

action plan on legal aid in Rwanda,” says Karol

Limondin, who has been active in the Legal Aid

Forum project.

“During the past seven years, the member

organisations of the Forum have completed

as many as 19 legal aid projects and two socalled

legal aid weeks. So far, the activities have

benefited 26,205 vulnerable individuals,” he

says and continues: “All these steps are very

important to ensure continuously improved

access to justice in Rwanda. Not just right

now, but also the next years. A reliable legal

system may contribute greatly to a peaceful

development in the long term,” states Mr




• Analysis and mapping of the need for legal

aid in Rwanda

• Support for the establishment of the Legal

Aid Forum

• Training and education of legal aid providers

• Assistance for the operation and management

of the network and provision of expert


According to an evaluation performed by the

Indiba-Africa Group, the Legal Aid Forum has

been a ‘wise and proactive’ investment which

has yielded significant rewards for indigent

and vulnerable communities in Rwanda. For

further details see



• Women in predominantly male professions

and men in predominantly female


• Gender from a child’s perspective

• NGO meeting with Michelle Bachelet,

Executive Director of UN Women

• Symposium on women experiencing

domestic violence after reunification with

their spouses in Denmark

• Seminar on transsexuality and the rights of

trans persons

The Danish Institute for Human Rights

has acted as the national equality body

on gender issues in Denmark since

15 March 2011. DIHR is to promote,

assess, monitor and support nondifferential

treatment of women and

men regardless of gender.



“This field of work is huge as there is an

inherent gender dimension in almost

everything,” Susanne Nour, Department

Director of the Equal Department, establishes.

“Being the national equality body, it is our

task to investigate structural circumstances

in society affecting gender equality and to

give individual advice to women and men

experiencing differential treatment. In addition

we monitor and evaluate relevant legislation,

political action plans and case law. What

stand out at first sight are the disparities in the

choice of profession and education, in pay and

pensions, and relative to the power dynamics of



“We have started investigating the application

of the rules on equal pay. We want to

identify the possibilities of improving case

administration. There is a surprisingly low

number of complaints regarding equal pay. This

means that there is hardly any development

in case law. How come that no complaints


are lodged when it is obvious that women in

general earn less than men with similar jobs?”

asks Ms Nour.

During the spring of 2012, DIHR will interview

persons who have instituted or completed legal

proceedings concerning equal pay and persons

who have been involved in such proceedings,

such as trade unions and legal representatives.

As part of the Danish EU Presidency, DIHR will

organise a conference on effective enforcement

of the rules on equal pay on 11 May 2012.


“According to the Danish Equal Treatment

Act, all public authorities must incorporate

a gender perspective in all public initiatives,

whether aimed at citizens or the administrative

area and staff of the relevant authority. That is

gender mainstreaming. Later in 2012 we will

launch several projects to develop specific,

useful tools in close cooperation with the public

servants responsible for the particular areas,”

says Ms Nour. “Some of the issues that we will

have a look at are the municipal educational

and vocational guidance schemes and the

municipal citizens’ services.”


DIHR has carried out a project in the City of

Copen hagen, promoting equal treatment and

fighting discrimination. The Equality Lab project

started in 2011 to mainstream the principle of

equal treatment in all procedures and practices

in municipal institutions.

Nine institutions from the seven administrative

divisions of the municipality participated in the

project, among others a day-care institution,

a citizen service centre, a job centre, an

institution for disabled people and a public

swimming bath. These nine institutions were

to launch specific initiatives to ensure equal

rights for all citizens in the services offered to

citizens. The project lasted from September

2010 to December 2011.

During the project period, DIHR performed

a small study and made a report on existing

practices and procedures of the individual

institution. The report was used to organise

a workshop for each institution at which the

workshop participants prepared action plans

for ways to make their future services take into

account differences among citizens and ensure

equal treatment. Afterwards DIHR evaluated

the project, including the process and results of

each of the seven institutions which completed

the project.

The Equality Lab Project was nominated by the

European Commission as one of 14 projects

promoting good practice in equality work, and

DIHR presented the project at the 5 th European

Equality Summit in Poznán, Poland.





In September 2011, the Danish Institute

for Human Rights developed a strategy

for the primary and secondary education

fields to improve students’ knowledge

about human rights.

Human rights education in a school context

is about strengthening students’ knowledge

about human rights norms and standards

and the mechanisms protecting them. It is

also to make students reflect on values and

attitudes related to human rights and human

rights issues and to strengthen concrete skills

to make students able to act in accordance

with human rights. This is the starting point of

DIHR’s human rights education strategy for

primary and secondary school children.

The strategy focuses on three areas. The

first focus area offers teachers and principals

concrete tools for working with human

rights and equal treatment in practice. The

second focus area involves the design and

delivery of learning sequences for students

on human rights and equality. And the third

focus area is to have influence at policy level

to ensure the compliance with international

recommendations regarding the incorporation

of human rights, including children’s rights, in

school curricula and legislation.


Hassan, Louise and Philip were there. They

took part in a group work programme on

democracy and citizenship education together

with students from other Danish primary and

secondary schools. It was in the spring of 2011.

The campaign was called ‘Democracy Because’

because it challenged students to reflect upon

what it means to be a responsible citizen of

a democratic and inclusive community. The

campaign included extensive inspirational

material for teachers and a nationwide

competition for students. The goal was to

strengthen their knowledge and make them

reflect on attitudes and values in relation to

democracy and human rights, but also to

inspire them to use their acquired skills by

developing small-scale activities on democracy

and human rights.

DIHR cooperated with the Youth Town, an

educational learning development centre, and

the former Ministry of Refugee, Immigration

and Integration Affairs to develop inspirational

material and four toolkits targeting different

forms and subjects. The inspirational material

comprises textbooks, exercises and links. The

themes are: ‘Rights and Co-responsibilities’,

‘Equal Treatment and Community’ and

‘Democracy and Participation’.

The campaign peaked with a competition

and an event at Christiansborg, the Danish

Parliament building, on 7 March 2011, at

which the winning students presented their

creative competition contributions about what

democracy means to them.



DIHR and its NGO partners from ten different

EU Member States have launched a project

focusing on eliminating the consequences

of discriminatory practices in schools and

homophobic and transphobic harassment and




“ We used the ‘Democracy Because’ material

at for a multisubject

project on democracy and rights for

the sixth form.

We really enjoyed working with the material,

which we found easy to use.

It was a great help to have detailed lesson


Discrimination, social stigmatisation and

violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and

transgender (LGBT) people still occur in


To eliminate the problem, DIHR has initiated

a two-year education project supported by

the European Commission under the slogan

of ‘It takes all kinds’. The project involves

cooperation between ten LGBT NGOs from

ten different European countries. The project

offers a comprehensive educational toolkit for

teachers and principals on equal treatment,

including in relation to sexual orientation and

gender identity. It also has the ambition to

support the NGOs by developing relevant tools

on discrimination and differential treatment

of LGBTs. A new website provides a forum for

the NGOs to ‘meet’ and exchange information,

inspiration and experience. The project also

offers a web-based portal with interactive

and amusing games on equal treatment for

students. See more at



Every year thousands of Danish students

participate in the national school newspaper

competition entitled ‘Write to the Newspaper’.

The theme of the 2011 competition was ‘duties

and rights’. DIHR joined forces with the daily

newspapers Politiken and Ekstra Bladet to

prepare material for a special website on various

It is indeed a huge field and therefore the

specific guidelines on how to structure the

work on the individual subfields were very


The students were very interested in the

various activities and found the subject

very interesting. We had some very good

discussions during the project.”

Mette Sidenius, Teacher at Mølleskolen in Ry

aspects of duties and rights and an inspirational

catalogue for teachers. From this website

student editors could retrieve information

about subjects like democracy, equality and

the freedom of speech. The information was

organised under four themes: ‘Rights and

Co-responsibilities’, ‘Equal Treatment and

Community’, ‘Democracy and Participation’ and

‘Democracy in the Middle East’.

The Institute made a group of experts available

for this project and established contact to

a number of so-called eye witnesses in the

Middle East and Northern Africa. During the

relevant week in late October, the students

toiled at their work to make a newspaper on

rights, and DIHR staff were ready at the phone

to answer all kinds of questions from bullying

to the alternative commune of Christiania and

the death of Muammar Gaddafi. More than 500

school classes produced their own thematic

issues of either Ekstra Bladet or Politiken.

The competition was won by two schools in

Western Denmark, which received DKK 25,000

(EUR 3,500) each from the Danish Newspaper

Publishers’ Association (Danske Dagblades






CONSULTATION RESPONSES: DIHR assists the Government and Parliament by

making human rights assessments of new bills. Responses are not always pure black

and white. One example is the issue of whether groups of inmates can be refused the

right to attend religious services.

As many as 71 consultation responses were

made by DIHR in 2011 to contribute to the work

of Parliament in connection with proposed

legislation that may have human rights


“Our contribution may be to sound the alarm

if specifi c elements of a bill are contrary to

the international conventions acceded to

by Denmark. In other situations things are

less black and white. We might also make

recommendations for the implementation

of a particular policy in accordance with the

spirit of the relevant convention(s) and the

recommendations that are also issued by

the United Nations, the Council of Europe

or another international body,” says Sara W.

Guldagger, Special Adviser at DIHR.

The Prisoners’ Choir

sings at the weekly

services in the Vridsløselille

State Prison

The consultation responses made by DIHR

in 2011 concerned issues like investigation

of false claims for social benefi ts, the use

of force against children and young people,

family reunifi cation, interpreting assistance at

hospitals and criminal sanctions. The agenda

also included a revision of the Danish Sentence

Enforcement Act, which governs the rights and

duties of inmates in Danish prisons.


“We always receive bills before their fi rst

reading in Parliament to assess whether

they have any human rights implications. An

example is the bill amending the Sentence

Enforcement Act to which we made several

comments. The proposed legislation would

entitle the authorities to refuse groups of



inmates the right to participate in services and

other religious activities in prison,” says Ms


She emphasises that the proposal was aimed at

very particular situations, such as the potential

security risk that emerges when large groups of

inmates attend the same service.

“The legislator naturally has a legitimate right

to help prisons avoid problems and increase

security and safety of both staff and inmates.

And in our assessment the proposal was not

contrary to human rights. However, in our

point of view it would be better to look into

another way of solving problems to better

accommodate the right of inmates to practise

their religion.”

“We therefore recommended the Danish

Parliament to suggest an alternative solution

in the form of a scheme that will not limit the

number of people participating in religious

services, but rather organise more, and maybe

shorter, services for small groups of inmates.

The effect is that inmates will have greater

possibilities of practising their religion, while

problematic situations with too many inmates

gathered at one place are avoided,” continues

Ms Guldagger.

The bill amending the Sentence Enforcement

Act was passed on 20 January 2012. The

recommendation of DIHR was not incorporated

in the new act despite support from both sides

of Parliament, including from the Danish

Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Red-Green

Alliance (Enhedslisten).


“Offhand, the Danish Liberal Party agrees with

the National Association of Criminal Defence

Lawyers (Landsforeningen af Forsvarsadvokater),

the National Association of Prison and Probation

Officers (Kriminalforsorgsforeningen) and

the Danish Institute for Human Rights that the

problem should basically be solved by organising

more services, but during the readings in the

Legal Affairs Committee we shall try to look into

the reason for the large proportion of inmates in

Danish prisons who want to go to church,” said Jan

E. Jørgensen, Legal Affairs Spokesperson of the

Danish Liberal Party during the first reading of the


“As already said on previous occasions from

this rostrum, we are also concerned about the

suggestion to restrict the right to attend religious

services as a way of solving the problem of too

many churchgoers rather than considering the

option of increasing the number of services to

make sure that inmates can enjoy their obvious

right to practise their religion,” said Pernille

Skipper, Legal Affairs Spokesperson of the Red-

Green Alliance during the first reading of the bill.



“Consultation responses are important in a

democratic society because they contribute

to a balanced discussion. When DIHR sends

a consultation response to Parliament, the

response attracts focus to human rights

considerations already during the legislative

process rather than at a far too late stage

when the bill has already been enacted and,

in the worst case, maybe left a citizen in an

unfortunate situation,” explains Christoffer








Consultation response: In 2011, the

Danish Government raised the age

of criminal responsibility after heavy

criticism of the lowering of the age to 14

years made in 2010. DIHR was among

the critics.

Lack of scientific basis, international concern,

no impact on crime prevention and contrary

to UN recommendations and the Convention

of the Rights of the Child. The arguments

against the lowering of the age of criminal

responsibility from 15 to 14 years in 2010 came

from many quarters. The critics included DIHR,

which wrote as follows in its consultation

response to the Danish Parliament:

“The bill is in direct contravention of the

recommendations made by the [United Nations

Committee on the Rights of the Child] and is

expected to attract international criticism. Also

experts and statistical material support more

extensive use of non-criminal sanctions for

juvenile offenders. Moreover, the bill is not in


The Danish Red Cross and Save the

Children Youth Denmark had organised

a happening against a lowering of

the age of criminal responsibility at

Christianshavns Torv, a central square in


harmony with the development in the other

Nordic countries.”

The consultation response from DIHR was

referred to several times during the readings

in Parliament in 2010 when a majority resolved

to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 14

years anyway.

Christoffer Badse, Chief Consultant at DIHR,

wrote the consultation response. In his

assessment, the Institute was generally in line

with the criticism raised by other organisations:

“In general, we agreed in much of the

criticism raised in connection with the bill by

organisations like Save the Children Denmark,

the National Council for Children (Børnerådet),

the Danish Prison and Probation Service

(Kriminalforsorgen), and not least the Youth

Commission set up by the Government itself. It

was obvious that the bill was not in line with the

human rights contained the Convention on the

Rights of the Child and in direct contravention of

the recommendations from the United Nations

in general within this fi eld. That made us

genuinely concerned,” he states and continues:

“The main problem was the apparent lack of

scientifi c evidence of any preventive impact of a

lowering of the age of criminal responsibility –

it showed rather the opposite. We are naturally

satisfi ed that Parliament raised the age of

criminal responsibility to 15 years again in 2011,”

he says.





National human rights institutions like the

Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) play

an important role when it comes to linking

human rights and business. In general, the

institutions ought to strengthen their activities

in this field. This was one of the conclusions

reached by the United Nations Human Rights

Council (UNHRC) in 2011 after two years of

joint efforts between various human rights

institutions to put the issue on the agenda of

the UN. “We are happy that the UNHRC now

acknowledges the impact of NHRIs like DIHR

in its efforts to raise the awareness of human

rights among business





In 2011 the United Nations adopted a set of

global guiding principles on human rights and

business. These principles constitute a great

advance in the protection of human rights.

They specify the role of states, the

responsibility of business and the need for

access to effective judicial and non-judicial

remedies to address adverse human rights


Margaret Jungk, the leading expert at DIHR

within this field, has been appointed to head

the UN Working Group on Human Rights

and Business, which is to promote the

dissemination of the guiding principles over the

next three years.

enterprises,” says Claire Methven O’Brien,

Senior Adviser at DIHR.

Dr. O’Brien highlights the International

Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National

Human Rights Institutions, an umbrella body

of all NHRIs, as it was in fact an ICC Working

Group (chaired by DIHR) which urged the

UNHRC to add the issue to its agenda. In 2011,

DIHR supported regional workshops about

human rights and business in Asia, Africa and

the Americas, and in 2012, the European NHRIs

are to discuss the subject.


Dr. Jungk believes that this work will have a

great impact on the international commitment

of business enterprises.

“I will focus on clarifying the future impact of

these guiding principles for both public and

private sector players. The new working group

makes an important contribution to maintaining

the continued development and promotion of

the human rights and business agenda,” says

Dr. Jungk, who headed the business and human

rights activities at DIHR from 1999 to 2011.

For further details about the work of the Human

Rights and Business Department at DIHR see





DIHR has been active in strengthening private sector actors’ respect for human rights

since the 1990s. The Institute shares its experiences in this area with businesses and

state actors in Denmark and internationally.

Companies have the responsibility to avoid

infringing on the human rights of communities,

customers and workers. According to the 2011

Government Platform, Denmark will take a

leading role in ensuring respect for human

rights and labour standards among companies

operating in Denmark and Danish companies

operating abroad.

While this is still a new subject for many

companies, the solutions have already been

developed and tested, with DIHR in a leading

role. For several years now, DIHR has worked

with companies to develop and test tools and

approaches that enable companies to ensure

good business practice on human rights.

“We welcome the Government’s ambitions of

promoting the social responsibility of business

enterprises through both voluntary initiatives

and legislation,” observes Allan Lerberg

Jørgensen, who heads the Human Rights and

Business Department. “Due to the work that we

and others have done in the past decade, many

of the tools needed by companies are already

available and ready to use,” he says.

DIHR has received great recognition both in

Denmark and abroad for its ability to translate

international human rights standards into

practical tools that can be used and are feasible

in everyday business practice. The Institute has

developed several tools for small and mediumsized

enterprises, and DIHR also gives advice

to major transnational corporations like Maersk,

Novo Nordisk and Danfoss.

“We always adopt a human rights approach

when engaging with companies. This means

that we take our point of departure in what is in

the best interest of human rights, which is the

prerequisites of all our corporate engagement

work,” continues Mr Jørgensen.


The work on promoting human rights

towards companies takes place on several

different levels. Business enterprises

need incentives and capacity to deal

with human rights. The international

community needs human rights

standards applicable to the entire global

market. States need effective legal

and regulatory frameworks to ensure

the protection of human rights in the

corporate sector. Finally, there is a need

for a civil society equipped with the

necessary resources and freedom to

hold companies, states and international

institutions accountable for potential and

actual adverse human rights impacts.





Courses paved the way for new partnerships in Central Asia. DIHR opened a positive

dialogue with two new partners in 2011 about human rights education.

Representatives of the United Nations

Development Programme (UNDP) and the

new National Human Rights Commission

of Bangladesh visited DIHR in June 2011

because the Bengali National Human Rights

Commission (NHRC) had requested support

for capacity building. To meet this request,

DIHR organised a course for members of

the Bengali Commission. The programme

comprised an introduction to the organisational

structure and activities of national human rights


institutions and their monitoring, counselling

and documentation activities. The course also

focused on collaboration with public institutions

and civil society.

Due to the successful course, the Bengali

NHRC and the Institute are now ready to set up

a formal partnership.

“Our Bengali partner wants to benefit from

the experience of DIHR and the support and

advice that we can give to help them establish

an efficient national human rights institution,”

says Theresia Kirkemann Boesen, Department

Director, Education.

“Initially we are to support the process of

drafting and implementing action plans.

Human rights education is one of the first

things that we will look into in 2012. The new

Bengali institution is facing the tasks of setting

up regional offices and starting cooperation

with all relevant target groups of the country,”

adds Ms Boesen.

The NHRC is the partner of a five-year capacity

development project coordinated by the UNDP

and involving the governments of Denmark,

Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea.




Until recently, Turkmenistan had a very

authoritative regime and was one of the most

closed countries of the world. However, we

now see openness towards the involvement of

international organisations in the human rights

promotion work; and DIHR has established

formal cooperation with the Turkmen National

Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

“We have visited our future partners in

Turkmenistan,” states Ms Boesen. “There is

much more control in today’s Turkmen society

compared with the Danish society, but we see a

willingness to open up. We have partnered with

the UNDP to make a needs analysis with the

intention of starting a learning process among

the staff of the Turkmen National institute for

Democracy and Human Rights,” continues Ms

Boesen and expresses great pleasure at their

mutual visits and not least the wish for positive


The needs analysis agreed upon comprises

a catalogue of potential fields of interaction,

which include human rights education,

processing of complaints and the development

of an information strategy as some of the

initiatives recommended by DIHR. The

partnership will be based on the excellent

experience of DIHR from similar focus areas in

countries like Tajikistan.

Turkmenistan founded its National Institute

for Democracy and Human Rights (NIDHR)

already in 1996. In those days it was supposed

to propose schemes for the democratisation

of government and public institutions. They

looked towards foreign legal systems, and

today the UNDP has concluded a Memorandum

of Understanding, which is also supported

by the European Union, the objective being

capacity development in Turkmenistan to

promote and protect human rights.

As a consequence of this cooperation

programme, a group of representatives from

the NIDHR made a study trip to Denmark in

2011. One of the elements of this trip was a

course at DIHR. The participants were given a

solid introduction to the use of relevant human

rights conventions and the development of

strategies for research and practical issues

related to the implementation of rights.






Disability Convention is a new convention for which DIHR has made a special website.

Since 1 January 2011, DIHR has been entrusted with the task of promoting, protecting

and monitoring the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of

Persons with Disabilities in Denmark.

“DIHR began its activities in the disability field

by inviting all disability organisations for a

meeting. These meetings heralded the start

of various initiatives, including the website and the survey

on Self-Determination and Guardianship in

Denmark,” says Susanne Nour, Department



“We developed the website to increase the

awareness of the Disability Convention and

its contents. By making DIHR’s knowledge

on the convention and how it is construed

available to the whole population, we want to

create a setting that enables both citizens and

authorities to use the convention,” explains Ms

Nour. “At the same time we want to contribute

to a debate on the impact of the convention on

persons with a disability in Denmark.”

The new disability team at DIHR has developed

the website in cooperation with disability

organisations, and various experts have also



DIHR also undertakes research and

development analyses on disability issues

to develop new knowledge. DIHR chose as

one of its initial focus areas in 2011 to analyse

the use of guardianship orders in Denmark.

Guardianship is a protective measure under

which a guardian is put in place to protect a

vulnerable individual against abuse by others.

At the DIHR conference ‘The Disability

Convention – Challenges to Denmark’

on 28 February 2012, Tue Byskov

Bøjkjær, Chairman of the Danish

Disability Council (Det Centrale

Handicapråd), said that the launch of

the website dedicated to the Disability

Convention was “a historic day”,

emphasising that the website was a big

step towards full implementation of the

Disability Convention in Denmark.

The analysis aims at assessing whether

legislation, procedures and practice regarding

guardianship are in accordance with the

Disability Convention. The convention

emphasizes that persons with disabilities have

the right to make their own decisions, while

States Parties are obliged to support persons

needing assistance to do so.

It can be a difficult balancing act. In some

cases guardianship is even conceived to

be particularly infringing. A citizen under

guardianship describes the situation as follows:

“Being under financial guardianship means that

decisions are forced on me by someone else

[…]. I have completely lost my humanity; in my

point of view it is not fair to treat people in this


The analysis resulted in a number of

recommen dations, which are listed in

the report entitled ‘Selvbestemmelse og

værgemål i Danmark’ (Self-Determination

and Guardianship in Denmark). The report

has a summary in English. One of the

recommendations of DIHR is to let persons

under financial guardianship imposed by

the court under section 6 of the Danish

Guardianship Act retain their voting rights.

Today, persons under financial guardianship

are declared legally incompetent and are

deprived of their voting rights. A citizen under

financial guardianship considers it a major and

unreasonable restriction to be prevented from


“I watch the Parliament TV Channel every day.

I am a member of the Social Liberal Party. But

I cannot do my duty and vote, and therefore I

feel I have no right to complain. I feel like an




According the assessment of DIHR, some of

the greatest challenges in Denmark from the

perspective of the Disability Convention are:

legal protection, accessibiltiy, prejudices,

education, labour market and health. We

focus on these challenges because they

are experienced by a very large number of

persons with disabilities, or because certain

persons with disabilities are particularly

affected by them.




Human rights issues in Denmark often extend beyond Denmark’s borders. This is

the reason why DIHR shares knowledge with and provides analyses to the European

Union. Some of the contributions in 2011 were analyses of the conditions of crime

victims, data protection and the conditions of Romas.

“We see an upward trend in the number of

human rights issues extending beyond national

borders. This makes it essential for Denmark

to contribute to an extensive European survey

of the human rights situation in the Member

States of the European Union.” This statement

was made by Christoffer Badse, who is a Chief

Consultant and the person in charge of DIHR’s

monitoring of and reporting on the human

rights situation to international organisations

like the European Union, the Council of Europe

and the United Nations.

According to Mr Badse, especially the

European Union has developed into a central

human rights player and guarantor. A central

instrument is the Charter of Fundamental

Rights of the European Union, which became

legally binding for Denmark in 2011. Other

essential instruments are the European

equal treatment directives. They lay down

the framework for Member States on the


promotion of equal treatment and the fight

against discrimination based on various

grounds of discrimination, including ethnicity,

gender and disability.

“These reports are necessary to perform

comparative analyses across several countries.

They provide information on challenges,

initiatives and good and bad experience in the

individual countries, for example if you want to

know something about the situation of Romas

in Europe,” says Mr Badse.


In practice, the reports from DIHR are

submitted to the European institutions through

FRANET, a multidisciplinary research network.

The network was started by the European Union

Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which is

based in Vienna.

“FRANET is developing a strong knowledge

base to facilitate the provision of advice all over

the European Union. One of the consequences

is that it is possible to launch more effective

initiatives to combat discrimination and

promote human rights at the European level.

This makes the reports on specific problems so

useful,” Mr Badse points out and emphasises

that DIHR considers the collection of data for

FRANET to be of great strategic importance.

“The work of preparing FRANET reports fits

very well into the profile of our Institute. We

have staff members of diverse professions and

competencies, such as anthropology, sociology

and law, which enables us to act in unison to

raise the level of knowledge on the human rights

situation and the fight against discrimination

in Europe. It is obvious that we would like to

contribute to this process,” he ends.



• FRANET is composed of national

experts of all EU Member States and


• In 2012, the contributions of DIHR will

be a number of both comprehensive

and brief reports, including an analysis

of the conditions of crime victims, data

protection and the conditions of Romas




Following the case of mistaken denial of Danish citizenship to stateless persons

born in Denmark by the then Ministry of Integration, the Danish Immigration Service

and DIHR partnered on the development of new guidelines on the registration of

statelessness and a new passport application form.

DIHR has worked with nationality and statelessness

for many years. At the beginning

of 2011, the Danish newspaper Information

published a series of articles on Danish-born

stateless persons whose applications for

citizenship had been refused contrary to their

convention rights. Therefore, the then Minister

for Integration Birthe Rønn Hornbech sent a

letter to almost 400 stateless persons born in

Denmark informing them of their right to acquire

Danish citizenship. The journalists at Information

discovered that officially rather few stateless

persons were registered with a background other

than Palestinian. However, stateless persons

can originate from many different countries. The

journalists received proof of their assumption

that many stateless Kurds had erroneously been

registered with ‘Syrian nationality’.

DIHR initiated closer cooperation with the

relevant authorities to avoid erroneous entries

in future.

“When we realised that certain asylum seekers

were not registered correctly as stateless, we took

several initiatives to implement systems ensuring

correct entries. To this end we had a good

dialogue with the experts of the Institute about

how to maintain sufficient awareness on making

correct register entries,” says Anni Fode, Centre

Director at the Danish Immigration Service.

DIHR had made an interim memorandum

pointing out that some Danish children had

been registered in the Central Population

Register (CPR) as foreign citizens. Other

persons, who had previously lived abroad,

had been registered as Danish citizens when

moving to Denmark although they had lost their

Danish citizenship during their stay abroad.

Furthermore, there were numerous examples

of statelessness that had not been identified

and of stateless persons who had been

registered with a foreign nationality.


“Erroneous records may have a considerable

impact on the lives of those registered

incorrectly. The legal consequence may be that

they will not be granted the status to which

they are entitled, and emotionally it may also

affect their feeling of identity,” Eva Ersbøll,

Senior Research Fellow at DIHR, explains. She


“But erroneous records also have an impact

on society because the basis of decisions is

insufficient for discussing and allocating rights

and duties when we do not have a fair view of

the composition of the population.”

On 4 October 2011, DIHR sent the interim

memorandum on the registration issues

to the Danish Immigration Service. This

memorandum and the proposals of the Danish

Immigration Service, including a proposed new

passport application form for foreigners, were

discussed by the Danish Immigration Service

and DIHR at a meeting. Afterwards, a new

form to be used by individuals for requesting a

revision of the personal data registered by the

Danish Immigration Service and a new passport

application form with focus on statelessness

were uploaded to, the

website of the Danish Immigration Service, on

25 October 2011.

“We found it essential to have an open

and constructive dialogue with DIHR. Our

employees have obtained a much higher level

of information on statelessness. And we have

implemented an improved procedure for

entering personal data from the very beginning

of the asylum process. We have also drawn the

attention of our clients to the new application

forms, leaflets and news on our website.

We really look forward to continuing the

cooperation in 2012,” says Ms Fode.




• According to the 1961 Convention on the

Reduction of Statelessness, Denmark shall

grant citizenship to persons born on Danish

territory who would otherwise become

stateless. The state may require a certain

period of residence and make the grant of

citizenship subject to the condition that an

application is lodged between the ages of 18

and 21 years.

• The 1989 United Nations Convention on the

Rights of the Child entitles stateless children

born in Denmark to Danish citizenship.

• At the beginning of 2011, the newspaper

Information published a series of articles on

applications for citizenship from stateless

persons born in Denmark that had been

refused by the Ministry of Integration in

contravention of international conventions.

• In February 2011, Prime Minister Lars Løkke

Rasmussen asked Minister for Integration

Birthe Rønn Hornbech to make a written

statement on the issue to Parliament.

• On 8 March 2011, Minister for Integration

Birthe Rønn Hornbech was asked to leave

her post, and it was decided to conduct an

impartial investigation of the matter.

• The newspaper Information continued

reporting on the treatment of stateless

persons for another couple of months. It

was disclosed in those reports that stateless

Kurds from Syria had erroneously been

registered as Syrian citizens.

• In the second half of 2011, DIHR commenced

cooperation with the Danish Immigration

Service to obtain correct registration of statelessness

and enforce the rights of stateless

persons. As a result of this cooperation the

Danish Immigration Service launched a

number of initiatives, including an application

form to request the revision of personal data

and a new passport application form. In 2012,

the Danish Immigration Service will attempt

to uncover erroneous entries by sending

informative letters about the possibility of

having wrong registrations corrected to a

large group of potentially stateless persons

from Syria, Bhutan and Burma.


According to various European studies,

16 per cent of all citizens in the EU

experienced discrimination last year.

The proportion in Denmark is 14 per

cent. A recent Danish study revealed

that about half of all immigrants

and descendants in Denmark have

experienced discrimination within the

past 12 months. However, only 14 per

cent complained of the incident.




DIHR launched a new website (www.sigfranu.

dk) in 2011. The name of the website literally

means ‘put your foot down now’. It was opened

to allow people to report anonymously if they

feel discriminated against. The website can be

used as an indicator of the extent of unlawful

differential treatment due to age, disability,

ethnicity, gender identity, religion and faith, or

sexual orientation. The City of Copenhagen

previously collected incidents of perceived

discrimination reported electronically by

citizens. Now DIHR has taken over this task.

“This website is a concrete initiative addressing

a well-known problem. It is essential to gather

more information about how discrimination is

perceived and in what contexts. There is broad

political consensus on countering unlawful

differential treatment in society, but today

we do not have any specific knowledge about

the number of people feeling discriminated


against, nor the relevant contexts. It is

diffi cult to tell whether we are facing the

greatest challenges in the health system,

the educational system or elsewhere without

specifi c data on perceived discrimination,” says

Mandana Zarrehparvar, who is Chief Consultant

for Equal Treatment with DIHR.


DIHR has the status of national equality body

within the fi elds of gender, race and ethnic

origin. DIHR is therefore mandated to give

assistance to victims of such discrimination.

The Institute has particular focus on giving

advice to individuals reporting such incidents

and to make everybody familiar with his or her

rights. To this end, an information campaign will

be launched in the spring of 2012.


DIHR provides advice on the right not to

be discriminated against.

Contact details:

Danish Institute for Human Rights


Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 am to

3 pm

For further details on how to complain,


klageguide (in Danish)

You can report incidents of discrimination

or hate crime anonymously on

“We will publish a leafl et in several languages

on the individual’s right to equal treatment,”

says Nanna Margrethe Krusaa, who is a Special

Adviser at DIHR. “The leafl et focuses on

different spheres of life: work, leisure time,

health, education, etc. It could be when you

want to visit a night club or restaurant, purchase

an insurance policy or a holiday trip, contact

the emergency ward or the doctor on call,

apply for maternity leave or seek a job. It is

important that people know their right not to

be discriminated against as well as where to

seek legal advice and where to complain,” she

points out. She therefore encourages persons

who feel discriminated against due to their

gender, race or ethnic origin and persons who

want additional information on their right not to

be discriminated against to contact the Equality

Counselling of DIHR.






To fight terrorism without acting

contrary to human rights, the Danish

Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked DIHR in

2011 to collaborate with the Ministry on

the preparation of practical guidelines

for counter-terrorism.

How can terrorism be fought in an efficient

manner without limiting individual rights?

This issue was discussed at a side event of

the United Nations Human Rights Council

(UNHRC) in March 2011: a panel discussion on

counter-terrorism and human rights organised

by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and

the International Commission of Jurists, an

international NGO. Following the event in

March 2011, DIHR has drafted practical and

operational guidelines on counter-terrorism

and human rights.

“At the Institute, we have drafted operational

guidelines on the actual fight against terrorism.

When finalised, the guidelines can be used by

police officers, prosecutors, judges and others

involved in counter-terrorism activities as an

aid for identifying and taking into consideration

relevant human rights considerations that may

arise when fighting terrorism,” says Peter Vedel

Kessing, Senior Research Fellow. He adds:

“Such guidelines may, for example, provide

specific directions on how to conduct interviews

with or criminal proceedings against presumed


The draft guidelines were discussed at an

international conference on counter-terrorism

and human rights hosted by the Danish

Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 12 March 2012 in

connection with the Danish EU Presidency.






About 73,000 children in Ethiopia

suffer from HIV and are accordingly

faced with isolation, stigmatisation and

discrimination. Save the Children

Denmark and DIHR have partnered to

help children infected or affected by HIV.

The pilot project ’Safe Environment and Non-

Discrimination in Schools’ or ’SENSE’ between

Save the Children Denmark and DIHR is to

influence the attitude and approach to HIV

and AIDS in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia.

Not only do close to 73,000 Ethiopian children

younger than 15 years live with HIV, but around

850,000 children are presumed to have been

orphaned because of AIDS. Altogether 1.2

million people in Ethiopia are living with HIV.

“The problem faced by these children is that in

addition to living with HIV, they have to fight the

lack of understanding in the ambient society.

The children are ostracised and stigmatised,

which limits their access to education and other

rights,” explains Annali Kristiansen, Senior

Adviser at DIHR.

“The project maps knowledge of, attitudes

towards and behaviour/conduct in connection

with HIV and AIDS in the relevant areas.

Basically, the surrounding community learns

how to handle the large number of children and

young people who live with HIV or AIDS. It is

crucial to influence attitudes and provide better

tools for schools, local communities, families

and not least the relevant authorities,” she says.

She refers to the fact that Save the Children

Denmark, which manages the project in

Ethiopia, focuses particularly on improving

conditions locally at schools and at regional

level. The role of DIHR is to build the capacity

of and empower the Ethiopian Human Rights

Commission on human rights issues and

specifically on the issues of stigmatisation and

discrimination. The project will continue in




• The SENSE project focuses on the national,

regional and local levels.

• It is is aimed mainly at the educational sector

and schools in Ethiopia.

• This is exactly where awareness can be

raised among the school community and

the children to prevent stigmatisation and

discrimination against children living with


• According to local sources, stigmatisation at

schools has declined since the beginning of

the project. However, it is still necessary to

focus on stigmatisation and discrimination

at all levels of society so as to ensure that

these children have de facto access to

education etc.





The Danish Institute for Human Rights has focused on the police and human rights for

the past 15 years, and the police forces of Denmark and several other countries have

received human rights education. DIHR is currently conducting a survey on police

trainees with an ethnic minority background who abandon their career with the police.

DIHR was asked for assistance back in 1998

from both Danish and international partners

to develop human rights courses for police

officers. DIHR has run courses at the Danish

Police College since then. At the same time,



• In 2011, all police trainees undergoing the

third year of their basic training received

eight human rights lessons. 480 students in


• The syllabus for the human rights course

includes subjects like the European Court of

Human Rights, United Nations conventions,

the right to respect for private life, the

right to life, the freedom of assembly, the

freedom of expression, the prohibition of

discrimination, the handling of hate crimes,

ethnic profiling, the rights of refugees and


• The curriculum is based on specific case

examples from the police, and it is designed

to increase the police officers’ knowledge

and challenge their value and attitudes.

• Each police trainee at the course will

receive a copy of the police manual

‘Menneskerettigheder og Internationale

Forhold’ (Human Rights and International


the international partners of DIHR asked that

educational material on human rights be

developed for their national police forces in

countries like Iraq, China and Montenegro.

The fundamental approach has always been

that educational material is developed by

local experts in close collaboration with their

relevant ministries and institutions, that is,

police college, police academy, etc. In 2011,

DIHR made a new handbook for the police on

hate crimes. It came in Danish, English and

three other languages.



DIHR has investigated whether there is focus

in Danish legislation and police practice on the

prevention of unlawful differential treatment

of ethnic minorities. It is referred to as ethnic

profiling if the police use race or skin colour

and not objective reasons when performing

monitoring and surveillance.

“Problems may arise when differential

treatment has not been spelled out in the

Danish Police Act or the explanatory notes as

a conduct that must be specifically avoided.

This comes into play, for example, when the

police make searches of citizens. We know


from previous studies that about half of the

persons searched inside designated areas

had an ethnic origin other than Danish,” says

Martin Futtrup, Legal Adviser at DIHR. “There

is also the risk in connection with border

control and counter-terrorism that the police

focus particularly on persons with a different

ethnic background.”

DIHR recommends that national guidelines

be prepared to make it easier for the police

to assess when there is an objective reason

for searching ethic minority persons and

when there is not, or how to avoid unlawful

differential treatment in connection with

border controls.

At the Police College, young police officers

are taught how to avoid ethnic profiling; but

DIHR emphasises that the officers need

guidance from superiors or others on how to

avoid ethnic profiling, also when they have

finished their training.

For further information, read the Danish

report ‘Etnisk profilering i Danmark –

dansk retsbeskyttelse inden for politiets

arbejdsområde’ (Ethnic profiling in Denmark

– Legal safeguards within the field of work of

the police).




In 2010, the United Nations Committee on the

Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

suggested that Denmark should establish the

reasons why applicants to the Police Service

with ethnic backgrounds other than Danish fail

the recruitment test and drop out of the Police


DIHR therefore started looking into the reasons

why a relatively low number of applicants with

an ethnic background other than Danish are

admitted to the Police College, finish their

training as police officers and subsequently

become part of the police force. Both the

question of equal treatment and the proportion

of ethnic minorities are examined in the study

on the lack of diversity in the police force. It is

essential to look at the role of ethnic minorities

according to the self-perception of an average

police officer. And whether persons with an

ethnic minority background face particular

challenges if they want to become part of the

police force.

“Seen from the perspective of DIHR, it is

essential that the police as one of the strongest

symbols of public authority reflect the

composition of the population. The police must

not be a ‘private club’. The police force must be

open to everyone with the right qualifications

regardless of ethnic origin,” says Line Vikkelsø

Slot, Special Consultant at DIHR.

The study utilises comprehensive qualitative

data from interviews with police trainees during

the last phase of their training, and with regular

police officers and other relevant players from

the police force. Both police officers with an

ethnic Danish background and police officers

with an ethnic minority background have been

interviewed. A total of 36 persons have been

interviewed by DIHR staff.

The report will be published in the early

summer of 2012.





In 2011, DIHR initiated a Danish network of

researchers interested in rights and human

rights issues. The research network is intended

to create synergies between the legal, scientific,

social science and humanistic research in

Denmark and to improve the connection

between practical human rights work and

relevant research.

“DIHR hosted a well-attended roundtable

conference for researchers with different

research backgrounds at which we discussed

the creation of a common research network.

The outcome was a suggestion for how such

a network could be structured in practice. A

working group will implement the project in

2012 and plan the activities and financing of the

platform,” says Eva Maria Lassen, Department

Director of the Research Department of DIHR.


The development of the new research network

also entails work on the idea of a pilot project

for Ph.D. courses and an annual research

conference focusing on a subject that is

attracting great attention from the research

community at the relevant time.

“A Danish platform for human rights and

research would be very valuable and

strengthen human rights research in Denmark.

I therefore believe that the future Ph.D. courses

and research conferences will be successful

and create an urge for even closer collaboration

across professional disciplines that focus on

human rights,” states Ms Lassen.

It is also the intention that the research network

is to act as an incubator for new ideas for

large-scale research projects involving not

just several professions, but also practical

aspects. We have positive experience at both

Nordic and international levels from setting up

inter-disciplinary research networks involving









DONOR 2011 2011 2011

Core grant 11,720 11,652 10.2%

Equal treatment irrespective of ethnicity 6,000 6,000 5.3%

Equal treatment irrespective of disability 4,600 4,600 4.0%

Equal treatment irrespective of gender 6,000 6,000 5.3%

Other income 597

Commercial activities 8,269 6,75 1 5.9%

Subsidised research 229 0.2%

Framework Agreement with Ministry

of Foreign Affairs 29,200 29,200 25.7%

Other subsidised activities 53,920 48,576 42.8%

Total 119,709 113,605 100.0%


Core grant

Equal treatment irrespective of ethnicity

Equal treatment irrespective of disability

Equal treatment irrespective of gender

Other income

Commercial activities

Subsidised research

Framework Agreement with Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Other subsidised activities

The 2011 income of DIHR breaks down into a Finance Act appropriation of DKK 28m (core grant and

appropriations for equal treatment irrespective of ethnicity, disability or gender), DKK 29m under the

Framework Agreement with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DKK 49m for other subsidised

activities and DKK 7m from commercial activities. DKK 16.6m of the Finance Act appropriation is for

promoting equal treatment irrespective of gender, ethnicity or disability. The item of other subsidised

activities totalling DKK 49m includes project grants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of a total of

DKK 25m. Income increased by DKK 12.5m in 2011 on 2010.


The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR)

participates in the public debate about

human rights in Denmark and abroad. We

supply background information and research

knowledge to the press, and DIHR experts

make professional assessments, analyses and

critical comments in connection with debates if

relevant to qualify a subject or attract focus to

an overlooked problem.


Martin Lassen-Vernal, Press Officer

Tel.+45 3269 8927, mobile +45 4057 8788 – or

Ask Hesby Krogh, Press Assistant

Tel.+45 3269 8767, mobile +45 2335 2089



• Children’s rights

• Discrimination

• Prisons

• Disability and accessibility

• Equality

• Responsible citizenship

Human trafficking

• Surveillance

• Freedom of expression

• Nationality

• Counter-terrorism



© Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR)


The case of mistaken denial of Danish citizenship to stateless persons born in


The Arab Spring

Diversity in working life (the MIA Award)

Age of criminal responsibility

UPR ‘examination of Denmark in human rights’

Other subjects (including children’s rights, discrimination, rule of law and


This includes 92 contributions to debates written by or mentioning DIHR.

Editors and authors: Ulla Dyrborg (ULDY), Ask Hesby Krogh

(AHK), Martin Lassen-Vernal (MLV), Signe Stensgaard

Sørensen (SSS) and Klaus Slavensky (KKS)

Photos: Colourbox, PolFoto, Novo Nordisk, UN Photo and


Photo on page 16: © From the documentary on the

Prisoners’ Choir produced by Sfinx Film/TV

Translation: Dialog Translatørservice

Graphical design: Hedda Bank

Printed by: Handy-Print A/S

Printed in Denmark 2012

Danish Institute for Human Rights

Strandgade 56 – 1401 Copenhagen K – Denmark

+45 3269 8888

DIHR aims to increase accessibility. We therefore use large

fonts, short lines, ragged right, few hyphenations, etc.

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