The Danish government is concerned its position on Sri Lankan asylum-seekers is being misrepresented in Australia after Rudd government ministers wrongly claimed a "number of countries" had suspended refugee applications from Tamils.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Immigration Minister Chris Evans have been unable to name any other countries that have suspended refugee applications from Sri Lankans, despite citing a problem "in Europe" and suspensions by a number of countries to justify Australia's decision to ban Tamil refugee applications for three months. Last night, Mr Smith's office continued to maintain other countries had decided to suspend refugee applications but said it could not name them.
Denmark is investigating reports claiming it had suspended refugee applications after statements by the Foreign Minister and Immigration Minister last Friday that Australia was not the only country to suspend Sri Lankan refugee applications.
Reports in the Fairfax press said Denmark was understood to have suspended refugee applications from Sri Lankans.
Last night, Mr Smith's office issued a statement that referred to the Danish Refugee Appeals Board as suspending appeals against repatriation from six Tamil families in April last year then extending the suspension of appeals to all Sri Lankans in June.
It also said the "basis and purpose of both suspensions was the same -- to take into account changing country circumstances". But the Danish Refugee Appeals Board only suspended the appeals process to prevent the families being returned to a dangerous situation.
After a report on conditions in Sri Lanka, the appeals board in Copenhagen dropped the suspension in December last year.
Danish sources said yesterday that the original suspension had been to achieve the opposite result of the Australian suspension and that was to keep Tamil families from being sent back. (The Australian)