New rules as part of a strengthened effort against negative social control
New rules that are going to strengthen the effort against negative social control will become effective on 15 March 2021. The main focus of these rules is to hinder religious marriages of minors and to avoid forced retention in marriage. The new rules also apply to marriage-like relationships that are carried out through religious ceremonies that hold no civil validity. In the following text, the main points of the new rules in the field of Immigration Authorities are gone over.
Refusal to issue a passport if the marriage of a minor is suspected
If there is suspicion that a foreign national minor will be sent abroad in order to marry, the Immigration Service can henceforth refuse to issue a passport or a travel document to the minor for a certain time period, which will usually be 1 year. If extraordinary circumstances should present themselves during this time, the foreign national minor will be able to have a passport or a travel document issued in order to take a specific trip. Read more about the new rules for refusal to issue passports
Expelling foreign nationals in relation to the marriages of minors
The expulsion rules are tightened, so that as a general rule, a foreign national will be expelled if he/she is sentenced to unconditional incarceration for having:
- Conducted a religious marriage, etc. without civil validity for a minor under 18
- Let his/her underage child enter into such a relationship, or
- Entered into such a relationship voluntarily with a person under 18, where the one in question is above 18 themselves.
Similarly, as a general rule, a foreign national will be expelled if he/she is sentenced to unconditional incarceration for having forced another person to remain in a marriage against their will.
Expelling religious workers who contribute to negative social control
A foreign national who holds a residence permit as a religious worker can be expelled regardless of the nature of their sentence if he/she has been sentenced for, say, exercising negative social control by drawing up a marriage or divorce contract which aims to keep someone in a marriage, or otherwise contributed to putting pressure on someone to make or not make life decisions regarding, say, divorce.
Penalty period for family reunification with children
As a general rule it will not be possible for someone who has been sentenced to incarceration for having forced another to stay in a marriage or a marriage-like relationship, to bring a child to Denmark via family reunification within a penalty period of 10 years.
Changes in the Criminal Code
The abovementioned changes in the area of immigration are prompted by the changes to the Criminal code that the new rules also entail.
It has now been specified in the Danish Criminal Code’s provisions on psychological abuse, that the exercise of negative social control through marriage and divorce contracts is a punishable, criminal offense. Moreover, a new provision has been added to the Criminal Code, which criminalizes religious marriages of minors.
Both religious workers, who are responsible for conducting the religious marriage of minors, and parents who allow their underage children to enter into a religious marriage without legal validity, as well as people that are of age who willingly enter into a religious marriage with a minor can be punished under the provision.
The punishment for illegal force has been changed so that a sharpened penalty will be applicable if a person is kept in a marriage or something of that nature against their will. The provision of the Criminal Code on the sanctioning of terror, murder, rape, pedophilia, etc. is extended to also encompass the sanctioning of exercising negative social control; including the religious marriage of minors, if the sanctioning happens as part of religious education.