Denmark Passes Draconian Migrant Assets Bill
The Danish parliament has backed a controversial proposal to confiscate asylum seekers' valuables to pay for their upkeep. Denmark says the policy brings migrants in line with jobless Danes, who must sell assets above a certain level to claim benefits.
The bill was expected to be approved even though it had been criticised by human rights groups. MPs also backed plans to delay family reunions for asylum seekers.
Under the new law, refugees entering the country will only be allowed to keep possessions up to a value of about 10,000 kroner (1,340 euros; £1,000) - a figure raised from 3,000 kroner following objections.
Items of sentimental value, such as wedding rings, will be exempt. The UN refugee agency and the European Commission had criticised the proposals.
Speaking before the vote, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva the measures would cause hardship and harm.
"The decision to give Danish police the authority to search and confiscate valuables from asylum seekers sends damaging messages in our view," he said.
"It runs the risk of fuelling sentiments of fear and discrimination rather than promoting solidarity with people in need of protection."