A Danish court has slapped Inger Stöjberg, the country’s former immigration minister, with a two-month prison sentence after finding her guilty of illegally ordering the separation of underage brides from their male asylum-seeking husbands in 2016.
On Monday, the Court of Impeachment found Ms. Stölberg, who served as Minister for Immigration and Integration from 2015 to 2019, guilty of violating Danish law over a policy she had implemented during the 2016 migrant crisis which saw some adult migrant men separated from their underage wives, Berlingske reports.
Ms. Stölberg’s policy, which prevented migrant girls between the ages of 14 and 17 from being housed in the same reception facilities as their husbands, many of whom were legal adults, was deemed to have violated Denmark’s Ministerial Responsibility Act as well as Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
According to a report from Deutsche Welle, the policy resulted in the separation of 23 asylum-seeking couples, with the ages of the women ranging between 15 and 17-years-old and the men 15 to 32.
Despite the court’s sentence, it is highly unlikely that Ms. Stölberg will see the inside of a jail cell since Danish law stipulates that those who’ve been handed prison sentences of less than six months have the right to serve their time under house arrest.
Nevertheless, Ms. Støjberg reacted to the verdict with shock and dismay, saying: “I am very, very surprised, I have to say. It is Danish values that have lost today.”
“There is something very wrong when you cannot protect girls from the disgusting phenomenon of child bride,” she said, adding that she would take her “punishment, and do so without shame.”
Earlier this year, Ms. Støjberg left the liberal Venstre party–of which she had been a member for over 20 years–after a majority of the party’s MPs voted to impeach her for the policies she had been responsible for as immigration minister. She now serves as an independent lawmaker in the Folketing, Denmark’s unicameral national legislature.
Ms. Støjberg’s case isn’t one-of-a-kind. Other prominent European ministers who’ve taken uncompromising positions against mass immigration have faced similar charges for protecting their country’s territorial integrity.
In October, Senator Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s right-wing populist Lega, appeared before a Palermo court on charges of “kidnapping” after he, while serving as Italy’s interior minister, prevented an NGO ship carrying hundreds of illegal migrants from docking at a port in Lampedusa.