A Danish court on Dec. 13 sentenced former Danish Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg to 60 days in prison after being found guilty of illegally separating young asylum-seeking couples in 2016.
In the landmark impeachment trial, majority of the judges of the Danish Supreme Court voted to convict Støjberg on charges of violating the European Convention on Human Rights and a ministerial accountability law for issuing an order in 2016 that separated married couples if one member was under Denmark’s legal age for marriage.
Investigations by both the ombudsman and a special commission found that the order did not allow for cases to be examined on an individual basis, which was required by Danish and human rights law.
Støjberg had ordered the separation of 23 married couples before the policy, which she had said was to protect “child brides,” was lifted a few months later.
Støjberg said outside the court that the ruling, which cannot be appealed, was “very surprising.”
“It’s the only scenario I had not prepared for because I thought it was completely unrealistic,” Støjberg told reporters.
“It’s not just me who has lost but Danish values have lost too,” Støjberg also said, adding that she will “serve my punishment… with my head held high, and then we will move on.”
“If I had had to live with the fact that I had not protected these girls, I would actually have had a harder time with that than with this,” Støjberg said.
Støjberg’s time as a minister ended in 2019 when her center-right Liberal Party lost at a general election.
The impeachment trial was the first in Denmark in three decades and the sixth in its entire history.
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