Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen


Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen

News Oresund / wikimedia.org

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Tuesday officially apologized to children in orphanages who had been abused and mistreated while in state custody in the mid-20th century. The performance was broadcast on the Danish Radio website.

"In the name of that time, today and the future, I want to look everyone in the eye and say the only true thing: I'm sorry!" – said the head of government at a meeting with dozens of victims in her official residence. The Prime Minister was clearly excited, reports TASS.

An apology on behalf of the state was brought to all those who suffered in the 1940-70s in 19 orphanages, for which an inspection was carried out and in 2011 the so-called Gukhevnsky report was compiled. The name of the document comes from the name of the Gujevn Correctional Facility in the north of Zealand, where thousands of Danish teenagers were in the 1960s. The report notes that the pupils were systematically subjected to violence, including sexual, as well as medical experiments. Children were forced to use drugs, some of them became as a result of drug addiction. Pupils also lived in unsanitary conditions and suffered from pediculosis, the authors of the report found out.

One of the victims was Paul-Eric Rasmussen, who lived in the orphanage Guchevn in 1962-1965. “We have been waiting for this day for many years,” he said. For ten years, several former orphanages sought official apologies from the state.

The beginning of the long process of recognition by the state of its involvement in crimes committed against children was laid in 2005. Then the documentary film "House for Boys" was shown about the abuse of pupils in the orphanage Guhevn. In 2009, the government allocated money to conduct an independent investigation into alleged cases of violence against children in such institutions. A 2011 report cited evidence of violence against boys and girls in 19 orphanages.

In 2015, the Copenhagen City Court abolished the Ministry of Social Security. Moreover, the district court ruled that it was no longer possible to file a claim for damages: the statute of limitations had expired in 1985.

In January 2017, the Social Democrats offered to apologize to former orphans on behalf of the state. However, on March 28, 2017, Minister for Children and Social Welfare Mai Mercado announced that the state should not apologize to the victims, and this is the position of the government.

In February 2018, the Danish Parliament passed a new law abolishing the statute of limitations for all cases of child abuse.

On March 13, 2018, Rasmussen's lawyer Björn Elmqvist stated that a decision had been made to refer the case of the former orphanage to the Supreme Court. However, later Rasmussen was forced to terminate the proceedings due to lack of funds for this.

In April 2019, parliamentarians representing the so-called “blue bloc” and the Danish People’s Party (national conservatives and populists) voted against apologizing to former orphans, as Mette Frederiksen, the leader of the Social Democrats (“red bloc”), insisted in parliament, 91 out of 179 seats.

On June 14, 2019, Mette Frederiksen, speaking in the National Assembly, announced that she would formally apologize to the orphans as soon as she became prime minister.

An orphanage for boys in Guhivna was founded in 1893. Orphaned children or those who could not cope with their studies at school fell there.