Immigration. Travel. Living.

Human rights in Denmark

Freedom of speech banner.

Denmark has also adopted the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Apart from that, Denmark is usually counted as one of the most developed Scandinavian countries.

Historical background

Back in 1987, the danish parliament established an official institution of national human rights called the Danish centre of human rights. However, today this institution is officially called the Danish Institute for human rights. Historically, Denmark as well as others Scandinavian countries were defenders of international law on human rights. The Grundloven, however, was adopted already in 1849 and has included a statement expressing that human rights and civil, political rights are guaranteed to Denmark’s citizens.

Constitutional acts on human rights

There are several sections devoted to human rights in the Grundloven. These are section 77 – freedom of expression, section 71 – the right to personal liberty, section 79 – freedom of assembly and section 67 – the freedom of religion. Other related documents include the European convention on human rights, aiming to endorse democracy in Europe. This treaty includes similar topics dedicated to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial.

Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression means freedom of the press and freedom of speech and is recognized as human rights under the Universal declaration of human rights. Danish government has legal restrictions towards blasphemy, libel and racism.

Freedom of the press

The same section also protects formal freedom of speech restricting to submitting one’s speech for review by Denmark’s authorities before publishing it. In general, this right ensures one not be punished for his or her speech. However, there still is a discussion about whether the one’s speech has several limits or not as well as what exactly those limits are. Such examples could be hate speech or a speech containing racism and discrimination both restricted by the Danish penal code. Some other restrictions could also contain publishing classified material which is rather harmful to state security, exposing trade secrets in the civil law.

Other restrictions relate to child pornography, libel and blasphemy as all these are forbidden by the Denmark’s penal code. However, in 1997 there was an accident when a some artist burned a copy of the holy book on a television news broadcasting publicly which was also funded by danish broadcasting corporations. Despite of the law, the person was never charged for blasphemy. Hate speech and racism are also forbidden according to the danish penal code. This means that no one can be threatened, degraded and derided because of his or her skin colour, race and national or ethnic background as well as sexual orientation and faith.

Personal liberty

Section 71 of mainly focuses on inalienable rights, which ensure the protection of danish citizens from unreasonable restraint. This guarantees them a right to a fair trial. Also, there is a statement in the constitution ensuring that a danish citizen cannot be detained due to his or her religion, political view and race.

Freedom of assembly

In Denmark freedom of assembly protects the right of the Denmark’s citizens to gather for peaceful assembly. Usually it is understood as the right to protest without arms or in a peaceful manner. It provides that an assembly may be dissolved by the police in case it is a threat to public peace.

Freedom of religion

This section is regarded as a fundamental human right, which is also stated in article 18 of the Universal declaration of human rights. Freedom of religion means that Danish citizens are entitled to establish and join religious communities and congregations. It also specifies that a religious group may not present a threat to the public morals.

The Universal declaration of human rights

There was an international community established in 1945 by the UN. It promoted international peace as well as an equality. The declaration itself was established in 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all people and all nations. Some experts view it as a codification of human rights, which does not contain discrimination related to the spheres of human personality and life. It supposed to serve as a model for domestic laws as well as binding treaties and act as a mechanism to uphold important values. These values were stated as those which support decolonisation, support universal equality and freedom as well as the struggle against discrimination and good governance.

Human rights campaigns

In general, there are several important large campaigns on human rights known from the 1960-1970s, which played a significant role in supporting non-governmental human rights organisations. For example, an honourable mention is the Helsinki watch established in 1978 as a formation of the International Helsinki federation for human rights. It also has committees in a number countries which include Denmark. This campaign is also known as a vehicle of progressive change of the country.

Contact us