Denmark's Ex-Immigration Minister Sentenced to Prison in 'Child Bride Case'

Former Danish immigration minister Inger Stojberg has been handed a 60-day prison sentence for illegally ordering the separation of underage couples who sought asylum in the northern European nation.

On Monday, an impeachment court convicted the ex-immigration minister and sentenced her to 60 days’ unconditional imprisonment over a 2016 order which saw underage migrant couples separated.

Known for her hardline stance on migration, Stojberg had ordered that authorities separate migrant couples upon arrival in Denmark. In total, 23 couples were separated, in a move which was later deemed unlawful by parliament’s ombudsman. The ombudsman decreed that Stojberg’s order failed to acknowledge that couples have the right to individual assessments.

The right-wing politician, a Liberal Party minister from 2015 to 2019, was accused of knowingly breaking the law. She had told the press that she expected the case to be thrown out and denied giving the order. The ex-minister claimed the move was aimed at protecting underaged girls and stamping out child marriages.

Prosecutors Jon Lauritzen and Anne Birgitte Gammeljord told reporters outside the court that they were satisfied with the judgement, claiming that it is “an historic case.”

The prosecution had sought a four-month conditional jail term in what was the first impeachment trial in nearly three decades. 25 of 26 judges agreed to convict the former minister.

The case first came to light in 2016 when a Syrian couple complained to the ombudsman that they had been put in separate asylum facilities on arrival in Denmark. A commission launched into the so-called “child bride case” in 2020 found the move to separate was “clearly illegal.”

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