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Title: Denmark Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996




                            DENMARK


Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democratic rule.  
Queen Margrethe II is Head of State.  The Cabinet, accountable to the 
unicameral Parliament (Folketing), leads the Government.  A minority 
three-party coalition took office in September 1994 following national 
elections.

The national police have sole responsibility for internal security.  The 
civilian authorities maintain effective control of the security forces.

Denmark has an advanced, market-based industrial economy.  One-half of 
the workforce is employed in the public sector.  The key industries are 
food processing and metal working; the leading exports are a broad range 
of industrial goods.  The economy provides residents with a high 
standard of living.

The Government fully respected the human rights of its citizens, and the 
law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with instances of 
individual abuse.  The Government responded to a 1994 Amnesty 
International report by suspending the use by police of leg-locks as a 
method of restraining detainees.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from:

  a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.

  b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that 
officials employed them.  The Government responded to a 1994 Amnesty 
International report by suspending the use by police of leg-locks as a 
method of restraining detainees.

Prison conditions meet minimum international standards, and the 
Government permits visits by human rights monitors.

  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and the 
Government observes this prohibition.

  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government 
respects this provision in practice.  The judiciary provides citizens 
with a fair and efficient judicial process.  

The judicial system consists of a series of local and regional courts, 
with the Supreme Court at the apex.

The law provides for the right to a fair trial and an independent 
judiciary vigorously enforces this right.

There were no reports of political prisoners.

  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence

The law prohibits such practices, government authorities generally 
respect these prohibitions, and violations are subject to effective 
legal sanction.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The law provides for freedom of the press, and the Government respects 
this right in practice.  An independent press, an effective judiciary, 
and a democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech 
and of the press, including academic freedom.

  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in 
practice.

  c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for religious freedom and the Government 
respects this right in practice.  There is religious instruction in the 
schools in the state religion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but any 
student may without sanction be excused from religion classes with 
parental permission.

  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation

The law provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in 
practice.  The Government cooperates with the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in 
assisting refugees.  There were no reports of forced expulsion of those 
having a valid claim to refugee status.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government

The law provides citizens with the right to change their government 
peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in practice through 
periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal 
suffrage.

The territories of Greenland (whose population is primarily Inuit) and 
the Faroe Islands (whose inhabitants have their own Norse language) have 
democratically elected home-rule governments with powers encompassing 
all matters except foreign affairs, monetary affairs, and national 
security.  Greenlanders and Faroese are Danish citizens, with the same 
rights as those in the rest of the Kingdom.  Each territory elects two 
representatives to the Folketing.

In the current Government, 7 ministers (of 20) are women.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of human rights groups operate without government restriction, 
investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.  
Government officials are cooperative and responsive to their views.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status

The Government's operations and extensive public services do not 
discriminate on the basis of any of these factors.  The law prohibits 
discrimination on the basis of sex, and the law is effectively enforced 
by the Government.  Discrimination on the basis of race is at present 
covered by two laws, which prohibit racial slander and denial of access 
to public places on the basis of race.  Human rights organizations such 
as the Anti-Discrimination Center have criticized the Government for 
failing to expand legislation to other areas of potential 
discrimination.  The rights of indigenous people are carefully 
protected.

  Women

An umbrella nongovernmental organization reports that in 1994, women's 
crisis shelters were contacted 11,312 times, and 2,158 women stayed at 
shelters.  There were 834 rapes and other cases of sexual assault.  The 
law requires equal pay for equal work, but some wage inequality still 
exists.  The law prohibits job discrimination on the basis of sex and 
provides resources such as access to the Equal Status Council for those 
so affected.  Women hold positions of authority throughout society, 
although they are underrepresented at the top of the business world.  
Women's rights groups are effective in lobbying the Government in their 
areas of concern, e.g., wage disparities and parental leave.

  Children

The Government demonstrates a strong commitment to children's rights and 
welfare through its well-funded systems of public education and medical 
care.  Sections within the Ministries of Social Affairs, Justice, and 
Education oversee implementation of the Government's program for 
children.  There is no pattern of societal abuse against children.

  People with Disabilities

There is no discrimination against disabled persons in employment, 
education, or in the provision of other state services.  Building 
regulations require special installations for the disabled in public 
buildings built or renovated after 1977, and in older buildings that 
come into public use.  The Government enforces these provisions in 
practice.

  Indigenous People

The law protects the rights of the inhabitants of Greenland and the 
Faroe Islands.  The Greenlandic legal system seeks to accommodate Inuit 
customs.  Accordingly, it provides for the use of lay people as judges, 
and it sentences most prisoners to holding centers (rather than to 
prisons) where they are encouraged to work, hunt, or fish during the 
day.  In Greenland, education is provided to the native population in 
both the Inuit and Danish languages.

  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The inflow of ethnically and racially diverse refugees and immigrants 
has provoked a degree of tension between Danes and immigrants (mostly 
Iranians, Palestinians, and Sri Lankans until late 1992; refugees are 
now overwhelmingly former Yugoslavs).  Incidents of random, racially 
motivated violence do occur but are rare.  The Government effectively 
investigates and deals with cases of racially motivated violence.

Section 6  Worker Rights

  a.  The Right of Association

The law states that all workers, including military personnel and the 
police, may form or join unions of their choosing.  

Approximately 80 percent of wage earners belong to unions, which are 
independent of the Government and political parties.  The Danish 
Confederation of Trade Unions, which includes about one-half of the 
country's work force, remains closely associated with the Social 
Democratic Party.  Unions may affiliate freely with international 
organizations, and they do so actively.  All unions except those 
representing civil servants or the military have the right to strike.

  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers and employers acknowledge each other's right to organize.  
Collective bargaining is protected by law and is widespread in practice.  
The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers against union 
members and organizers, and there are mechanisms to resolve disputes.  
Employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination are required to 
reinstate workers fired for union activities.  In the private sector, 
salaries, benefits, and working conditions are agreed upon in triennial 
negotiations between the various employers' associations and their union 
counterparts.  If the negotiations fail, a national conciliation board 
mediates, and its proposal is voted on by management and labor.  If the 
proposal is turned down, the Government may force a legislated solution 
on the parties (usually based upon the mediators' proposal).  The 
agreements, in turn, are used as guidelines throughout the public as 
well as the private sector.  In the public sector, collective bargaining 
is conducted between the employees' unions and a government group, led 
by the Finance Ministry.

Labor relations in Greenland are conducted in the same manner as in 
Denmark.  In disputes, Greenlandic courts are the first recourse, but 
Danish mediation services or the Danish Labor Court may also be used.

In the Faroes, there is no umbrella labor organization, but individual 
unions engage in periodic collective bargaining with employers.  
Disputes are settled by mediation. 

There are no export processing zones.

  c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law, which the Government 
effectively enforces.

  d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for full-time employment is 15 years.  The law 
prescribes specific limitations on the employment of those between 15 
and 18 years of age, and it is enforced by the Danish Working 
Environment Service (DWES), an autonomous arm of the Ministry of Labor.

  e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no legally mandated national minimum wage, but national labor 
agreements effectively set a wage floor.  The lowest wage paid is 
currently about $13 (DKr 75) per hour effective in September, which is 
sufficient for a decent standard of living for a worker and family.  The 
law provides for 5 weeks of paid vacation per year.  A 37-hour workweek 
is the norm, established by contract, not by law.  The law does, 
however, require at least 11 hours between the end of one work period 
and the start of the next.

The law also prescribes conditions of work, including safety and health; 
duties of employers, supervisors, and employees; work performance; rest 
periods and days off; and medical examinations.  The DWES ensures 
compliance with labor legislation.  Workers may remove themselves from 
hazardous situations or arms production without jeopardizing their 
employment rights, and there are legal protections for workers who file 
complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

Similar conditions of work are found in Greenland and the Faroes, except 
that their workweek is 40 hours.  As in Denmark, this is established by 
contract, not by law.

(###)

[end of document]

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