A tentative agreement has been signed that will allow the Danish government to transfer hundreds of convicted criminals from non-EU countries—all of whom have received deportation orders—to prison facilities in Kosovo where they will serve out their sentences.
The agreement—drafted by the ruling Social Democrats, the Socialist People’s Party, the Danish People’s Party, and the Conservative People’s Party—was signed earlier this month by the Kosovo authorities and will allow hundreds of criminal migrants with deportation orders to carry out their sentences in Kosovo instead of Denmark, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation reports.
The prison facility—located 50 kilometers outside the capital Pristina in the city of Gjilan—has enough space to detain 300 inmates and will help to ease Denmark’s overburdened prison system, according to reports.
Kosovo, in exchange for receiving and handling the 300 prisoners from Denmark, will be paid a total of 210 million euros over the next ten years, according to a joint statement. In addition to this sum of money, Eris Hana, a member of the Kosovar negotiating team who’s a senior legal advisor to the justice ministry, says the Danish government will donate “more than 60 million euros” for ten years, which is to be invested into green energy.
Kosovo’s energy system—almost entirely based on coal production—is presently in a state of emergency, producing just 60% of the country’s daily energy consumption.
While signing the letter of intent, Danish Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup told his Kosovo-Albanian counterpart Albulena Hazhiu that the agreement would help to address Denmark’s overburdened and overpopulated prison system. “This is a groundbreaking agreement that will create real space in our prisons and ease the pressure on our prison officers,” Haekkerup said.
For her part, Haxhiu noted that Kosovo has some 700 to 800 unused prison cells, stressing that the “laws of Denmark will apply” when it comes to the treatment of prisoners in the rented cells. The final agreement, which is expected to be signed early next year, will then need to be ratified by governments’ lawmaking bodies.
Despite being ruled by the Social Democrats, an ostensibly left-wing party, the Danish government maintains one of the strictest immigration policies in the European Union. Earlier this year, Denmark became the first country in the 27 member bloc to stop granting asylum status and to revoke previously-granted refugee status to Syrians, after deeming parts of the war-torn country safe to return to.
“We only have to provide protection for those people for as long as they need to, but now, the refugees should return home,” said Danish Immigration Mattias Tesfaye, noting that conditions on the ground in Syria had improved to such an extent that Syrian refugees no longer require the protection of the Danish state.
Minister Tesfaye, despite having a migrant background himself, has long been one of Europe’s most outspoken critics of mass migration, once slamming Europe’s current asylum system, which seeks to admit as many refugees as possible, as “immoral and unsustainable.”
“My dream is zero asylum seekers in Denmark. I believe that the existing European asylum system cannot be defended either morally or politically,” Tesfaye said last fall during an interview with the Swedish newspaper Bulletin.
“The asylum system is used for migration to an extent that our welfare society cannot absorb, and that challenges cohesion in Denmark. That is why we have to get asylum immigration under control,” the minister added.