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Denmark starts to expel convicted Iraqi refugees

Move condemned by Amnesty International

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Amnesty International's Danish section has denounced the government for starting to expel Iraqis convicted of serious crimes, forcing them to return to Iraq.

"These expulsions are unacceptable and against international and even Danish conventions that forbid sending anyone back to a country where their safety is threatened," Lars Normann Joergensen, the head of Amnesty Denmark, told AFP.

The government recently decided to expel 11 Iraqi refugees convicted of serious offences including drug dealing, assault, arson and even murder.

It is the first time Denmark has sent Iraqis back to Baghdad.

But Joergenson said: "Iraq is still prey to violent unrest, with hundreds of deaths a month, and its government is incapable of ensuring the safety of its citizens."

Some of those facing expulsion risked being killed or tortured on their return, he added.

Two people were sent back on Thursday and the other nine were due to follow over the next four weeks, said Hans-Viggo Jensen, deputy director of the national police force. The Iraqi authorities had agreed to take the 11 back, he added.

One of those expelled had immediately been imprisoned in Iraq on his return, the Ritzau agency reported, quoting the man's wife.

Of the 11 selected for expulsion, 10 had legal papers for Denmark while the other was a failed asylum seeker.

Meanwhile, another 400 refugees whose asylum requests have been rejected are currently staying at centers in Denmark. They are refusing to leave Denmark voluntarily despite being offered incentives by the Danish authorities.