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Denmark could face legal action over decision to deport Syrians, report says

PADBORG, DENMARK - JANUARY 06: Danish police escort a family from Syria seeking asylum in Denmark after finding them while checking the identity papers of passengers on a train arriving from Germany on January 6, 2016 in Padborg, Denmark. Denmark introduced a 10-day period of passport controls and spot checks on Monday on its border to Germany in an effort to stem the arrival of refugees and migrants seeking to pass through Denmark on their way to Sweden. Denmark reacted to border controls introduced by Sweden the same day and is seeking to avoid a backlog of migrants accumulating in Denmark. Refugees still have the right to apply for asylum in Denmark and those caught without a valid passport or visa who do not apply for asylum are sent back to Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Danish police escort a family from Syria seeking asylum in Denmark after finding them while checking the identity papers of passengers on a train arriving from Germany on January 6, 2016 in Padborg, Denmark [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Denmark could face legal action for its attempt to deport Syrian refugees from the country, a report has revealed.

In March, the Danish government declared that the Syrian capital Damascus and the territories under the control of President Bashar Al-Assad are "safe", enabling it to revoke the residency permits of hundreds of Syrian refugees in Denmark.

The decision means that the asylum seekers could be deported. Due to the fact that the government still does not have ties with the Assad regime, though, those Syrians are to be held in deportation centres for an unknown amount of time.

In April, 94 Syrian refugees were stripped of their residency permits within a single week, and around 1,200 overall who hail from Damascus are reportedly directly affected by the policy.

According to a report by the Guardian, the London-based international justice chambers, Guernica 37, is now working with asylum lawyers and the affected families of the refugees in Denmark in an effort to challenge Copenhagen's policy.

Guernica 37, which specialises in transnational justice in relations to human rights cases, insists that the policy is contradictory to international law under the Geneva convention's principle of "non-refoulement".

READ: Syrian mother granted asylum in Denmark as it prepares to deport refugees

The strategy note of the chambers stated: "The situation in Denmark is deeply concerning. While the risk of direct conflict-related violence may have diminished in some parts of Syria, the risk of political violence remains as great as ever, and refugees returning from Europe are being targeted by regime security forces."

It added that "If the Danish government's efforts to forcibly return refugees to Syria is successful, it will set a dangerous precedent, which several other European states are likely to follow." Currently, Denmark is the only European state to openly label Syria as safe, with the international community and the United Nations refusing to deem it so.

The Guardian quoted Carl Buckley, the barrister heading the efforts of Guernica 37, saying that taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is one potential method of holding the Danish government to account. He recommended, however, that the Danish legal system should be given a chance first with Syrians' appeals against the policy.

"The ECHR is a slow-moving system, but we would make an application asking the court to consider interim measures, which would involve ordering Denmark to stop revoking residencies until a substantive complaint has been considered and ruled upon," Buckley said.

He expressed the hope of Guernica 37, as well as that of a consortium of 150 Danish law firms, that Copenhagen would quickly reconsider its policy "or they will end up with thousands of similar applications" if it is taken to the courts.

READ: Syria refugee hospitalised with stroke after Denmark revoke his residency

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