By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A former Danish immigration minister has been sentenced to prison for “illegally” separating young asylum-seeking couples as part of her self-declared campaign against child marriage.
The Court of Impeachment in Copenhagen, the capital, ruled that Inger Stoejberg’s decision in 2016 to separate couples was unlawful and jailed her for 60 days.
Stoejberg, who also faces removal from Parliament, expressed surprise about the verdict making clear she wanted to protect underaged girls against forced marriage.
Girls, including kidnapped Christians, are often forced to marry at a very young age in several Muslim nations, according to rights investigators. However, Danish authorities say those cases should be judged individually.
As minister, Stoejberg took a hard line on immigration and introduced dozens of restrictions on the mainly Muslim migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty entering the country.
She ordered in February 2016 that married refugees under 18 years old should not be accommodated with their spouses.
Stoejberg ordered the separation of 23 married couples before the policy was dropped a few months later.
Among those separated was a young Syrian couple, Rimaz Alkayal, then 17, and her spouse Alnour Alwan, 26, reunited following a complaint. They had been forced to live apart for four months, although she was pregnant, according to the Court case.
The case was Denmark’s first impeachment trial in three decades and only the sixth in its history. “It’s not just me who has lost, but Danish values have lost too,” Stoejberg told reporters outside the court.
She said she would accept her punishment but had no regrets.
Stoejberg served as Denmark’s immigration minister in a center-right government propped up by the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party between 2015 to 2019.
When court chairman Thomas Roerdam read out the guilty verdict, the former minister gasped in shock, trial witnesses said.
Outside the court, prosecutors said they were satisfied with the “historic” verdict, while Stoejberg’s lawyers said it was harsh.
The verdict cannot be appealed, and the jail sentence is unconditional and must be served, according to Danish rules.
The case comes at a time of debate about integrating the growing influx of migrants in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.