The Danish government’s former Immigration Minister, who has been sentenced to prison for her role in the so-called “family separation” campaign to deport Syrian asylum seekers, will be responsible for implementing and enforcing Denmark’s deportation law, a judge said on Friday.
Lise Bissonnette was sentenced to two years in prison for her role in an asylum campaign that detained and locked up families, ultimately pushing many children to put their lives at risk by running through the streets. Her co-defendant, the now-departed former Immigration Minister for District 11, is to be sentenced in May.
A judge’s ruling on Friday, announced by the newspaper Dagsavisen, stated that, “Acts by Bissonnette… led to the declaration of the single-parent family and the split of families.”
“According to the 2010 Asylum Act, single parents are put into a separate category. In Bissonnette’s ‘family separation campaign,’ the message of separation took hold and asylum seekers were separated from their children.”
Conditions in Danish detention centers weren’t originally intended for unmarried parents, and children found themselves crammed into detention cells, despite not belonging to any organized family. Between 2015 and 2016, more than 300 children were separated from their families, according to an Amnesty International report.
The children and the families and asylum seekers are not responsible for the actions of the “Family Separation Campaign,” Bissonnette had claimed during her trial, but her argument failed to convince the judge. In a separate article by Danish-language newspaper Sydsvenskan, Bissonnette reiterated this argument while speaking to several reporters.
“I’m very sorry about what happened. And I’m very sorry for the four years and nine months that I was the Minister of Immigration and Integration,” Bissonnette said, according to Sydsvenskan. “When I see the state that we have today, when we cannot manage asylum seekers and political refugees, I see a political system that needs to be fixed.”
Bissonnette will now be responsible for overseeing asylum seekers’ deportation to their home countries. She has also been placed under a five-year suspended sentence, meaning that, for the next five years, she will not have any future criminal history.