UN Human Rights Committee Complaint Against Denmark
November 4, 1991

This text was written on a Danish typewriter and mailed from Denmark.

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The Danish Government claims to have no knowledge of this Complaint.

Danish Authorities knew about it in 1991.

The UN Human Rights Committee has never acknowledged or processed it.

UDL No. 88-051.481
Dansk Røde Kors
Center Sandholm
3460 Birkerød, Denmark
4 November 1991

The Human Rights Committee
c/o Center for Human Rights
United Nations Office
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland


This communication is submitted for consideration under the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

My name is James Henry Graf. I am a citizen of the United States of America who, because of persecution and torture by the government of my country, has sought political asylum in two European States, the Netherlands and Denmark.

I was born at Jersey City, New Jersey in the United States on 21 March 1942. My present address is given above. In the event that I cannot be located there, correspondence may be sent care of Ms. Anna Maria Graf, 105 Homes Park Avenue, Iselin, New Jersey 08830-2213, United States of America.

I am submitting this communication as victim of the violations set forth below. I hereby accuse the State of Denmark of acts and omissions that violate Articles 2, 13, 17, and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Because my application for political asylum in Denmark was declared "manifestly unfounded" in a decision dated 25 October 1991 by the Danish Directorate for Aliens, I am denied the right of appeal and have no further remedy or recourse available to me in the matter. I have applied for a temporary residence permit on Humanitarian grounds. This matter is still pending. I am not aware of any other remedies available to me.

Inasmuch as the treatment I have received in Denmark may be considered cruel and degrading and because Denmark has failed to fulfill its responsibilities to me as a victim of past and continuing mental torture, as set forth in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, I have submitted a communication dated 31 October 1991 to the Committee Against Torture. For that reason, these aspects of the situation, however grave, will not be stressed in this communication.

On 30 November 1990, while still a resident of the United States, I submitted a communication to the New York Office of the United Nations intended for consideration by the Human Rights Commission. The Danish authorities have a copy of this letter. I have no information regarding its reception or processing.

I arrived in Denmark on 13 September 1991, having travelled by train from Amsterdam, Holland. After staying several days at a tourist hotel in Copenhagen, I presented myself on 18 September 1991 at the Tilsynet Med Udlændinge office at 5 Anker Heegaardsgade in Copenhagen. I showed my valid American passport and told the officer I was requesting political asylum as a victim of persecution and torture in the United States. He laughed out loud. When I asked him why he was laughing, he apologized and said "We don't get many Americans here." My passport was examined and found to be genuine. I was instructed to report to the Sandholm Refugee Center in Birkerød, about 30 kilometers north of Copenhagen.

I reached the Sandholm Center at approximately 1:45 P.M. on 18 September. At the front gate, I showed my American passport and identified myself as an asylum-seeker. The officers laughed and asked me why. I told them that my own government had subjected me to persecution and torture and that I could not obtain the equal protection of American laws. They laughed again, brutally. This time there were no apologies. One of them emerged from the booth and led me to a small building behind a locked gate. As he walked, he verbally attacked me, saying "Do you have any idea how much money this is costing? You're stupid, stupid!"

I then waited with several other refugees until after 5:00 P.M. I was the last of the refugees to be processed that day. Mr. Poul Madsen and Mr. Regnar Rasmussen registered me. They, in contrast with the other police, were courteous and respectful. I mentioned to them that I was expecting two trunks to be shipped from the Amsterdam train station, and that these contained extremely important documents relevant to my case. Mr. Rasmussen remarked "We'll have to get those trunks." I was photographed and issued a blue refugee's residence permit in lieu of my passport, which they kept. It was agreed that, after spending one more night at the tourist hotel, I would take up residence here at the Sandholm Center the next day. I was instructed to present on arrival all the money in my possession.

On 19 September, Mr. Poul Madsen picked me up at the hotel and drove me to the Sandholm Center. Once there, I presented to Mr. Madsen the following monies: American Express Travelers' Checks totalling 2,120 U.S. dollars, 42 dollars in American currency, and a Cashier's Check, Number 507052, dated 27 August 1991, written by United Jersey Bank in the amount of 18.439,61 U.S. dollars. I was informed that the American currency and traveler's checks would be converted to Danish currency and held on account by the police, and that the Cashier's Check would be cleared through Bikuben Bank in Allerød. As soon as the check cleared, said Mr. Madsen, the funds would be credited to an account in my name at Bikuben Bank. I endorsed the check and gave it to Mr. Finn Klausen and Ms. Marianne Ahlén of Bikuben. As of this writing, I can obtain no further information regarding the disposition of this check, which represents nearly all the money I have in the world. The bank (Bikuben) claims that it has not cleared. The police display no interest or concern. I appear to have been denied the equal protection of Danish law in this matter. To the best of my knowledge, no account has been established in my name at any Danish bank. The money represented by the check is unaccounted for. As of 19 September 1991, I was left with 1500 Danish Kroner at my disposal.

On either 18 September or 19 September, Mr. Madsen informed me verbally that my application for asylum would be processed under "normal procedure." I was told that I would be charged for expenses incurred by the Police, but that such charges would not exceed the interest earned by my money at Bikuben Bank.

Prior to my arrival in Denmark, I had assembled a compilation of documents for submission to Danish authorities. Though not the originals, these were sufficient, in my opinion, to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it was, and is, impossible for me to find safety, security, and the equal protection of the laws in the United States. I submitted these on 19 September 1991 with the "formfilling" phase of my processing. In my application, within the limitations of the questions asked, I had supplied sufficient information to give Danish authorities an indication of the dangers and stresses to which my government had subjected me. By any objective standard, I presented a very strong case. My application form also indicated clearly that the electronic invasion of privacy and mental torture inflicted by American agents were taking place even in Denmark, that the crimes were ongoing.

During my stay at Sandholm, I have experienced numerous apparent attempts on the part of others to provoke anger, instil fear or anxiety, induce depression, or otherwise discourage me. I was questioned frequently by other refugees and by Danish Red Cross personnel regarding my reasons for being here. Some of this, I am sure, was in earnest, but much of it appears to have been organized or instigated by American agents or by Danish authorities bent on "psyching me out" or else determined to diminish my credibility by impugning my sanity. This pattern of experience is all too familiar. My own government has subjected me to it for at least seven years. I was told by several persons, "off the record," that an American has little or no chance of obtaining asylum here.

I have not been able to obtain any information regarding the fate of my trunks, which contain not only my most important papers, but also my winter clothes. Both the police and the Danish Red Cross have flatly refused to help me secure them. In September, Red Cross personnel advised me to wait or else talk to the police. In October, Mr. Benny Nielsen of the police told me that the trunks were my problem. Many other refugees here have sucessfully obtained the assistance of the Red Cross and/or the police in securing their lost baggage, yet I am denied. I have received no response to my letter dated 1 October 1991 to the Amsterdam Central Station requesting shipment of the trunks to me. I suspect interference, and possible interception of my mail, by Danish or Dutch authorities, or by American agents.

My last two attempts at telephoning my former wife in America have been unsuccessful. On 29 October, at approximately 11:30 A.M. Danish time, I attempted to call from a pay phone in Blovstrød. Twice I dialed the number correctly, and twice I received a recorded message that the call could not be completed as dialed. At 12 midnight, 4 November, I tried to call from the pay phones here at Sandholm. My correct dialing resulted in an alarm tone, nothing more. Having mailed my former wife copies of certain documents pertaining to the above-mentioned experiences, I cannot obtain confirmation that my letters have been received, that my former wife is well and safe, or that the First Jersey Bank has processed my Cashier's Check -- or even received it.

With regard to the processing of my application for asylum in Denmark, I reaffirmed on 10 October 1991 the information I had submitted in "formfilling," in the course of an interview with a representative of the Danish Directorate for Aliens. As translated to me by a Red Cross employee, the notes from that interview gave no indication of any negative judgment. There was no indication that my case was considered weak or that my application should be denied. I anticipated a decision which, if negative, could be appealed to the Danish Refugee Board, and that I would have available to me for that appeal not only legal assistance, but also my entire file of documents contained in my trunks, as well as a bank account in my name for necessary expenses. Through corrupt interference, I was denied all these. This is also a familiar pattern in my experience.

Later in October, I was scheduled for an interview with the Danish Refugee Council, a private organization that advises the Directorate for Aliens. I was told that the Directorate arranges such interviews when it feels that a particular case is weak. I said that it was obvious that my case was not weak, and that political interference seemed to be the problem. I reaffirmed all my allegations.

On 28 October 1991, I was summoned to the police post here at Sandholm Refugee Camp. Benny Nielsen, ka., with the assistance of J. Kheir as translator, read to me the decision of 25 October 1991 by the Directorate for Aliens, signed by Mr. Erling Vestergaard. The decision found my application "manifestly unfounded" and denied me any right of appeal. It made no determination regarding the substance of my allegations. On the contrary, as translated by Mr. Kheir, it stated that even if proved, my allegations, including my claims of torture, would constitute only "light reasons" for granting asylum.

In accordance with standard procedure in such cases, and without regard for my demonstrated physical disabilities, I was advised that I must move from Sandholm by the end of the day and would have to leave Denmark by 12 November 1991. I told Mssrs. Nielsen and Kheir that I was not well enough to seek accommodations and not well enough to endure the stress of emigration. I exercised the only option open to me under the circumstances, applying for a temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds, citing my arthritic handicap and my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and hypertension. I remain currently at Sandholm pending decision by the Danish Minister of Justice on that application.

What emerges is, I contend, a clear pattern of discriminatory treatment on the basis of my national origin. I maintain that the Danish Police do, as a matter of course, assist refugees in securing documents necessary for their cases, as they originally assured me they would do in my case. I maintain that the Danish Red Cross does routinely assist refugees in retrieving their baggage. I note that the Red Cross, without being asked or reminded, routinely places refugees at Sandholm on a clothing list and routinely schedules refugees for classes in the Danish Language. These things were not done for me because I am an American, and because, somewhere in the system, the word was passed that I should not be taken seriously and that every effort should be made to discourage me. This is entirely consistent with the pattern I have experienced in my own country. It should not happen in Denmark.

With a heart full of sadness and disillusionment, therefore, I must accuse Denmark, a nation I have loved and respected all my life, of the following violations:

  1. In apparently interfering with my efforts directed toward contacting my former wife and toward securing my luggage, Denmark has violated Article 17 of the Covenant.

  2. Denmark has violated Article 26 of the Covenant in denying me the equal protection of its laws. Having been advised that an innocent man is pursued, threatened, and tormented within Danish territory by foreign agents, Denmark's only response has been to punish the victim. I have been denied protection against discrimination on the basis of my national origin. I maintain that an asylum-seeker from, let us say, Rumania, who has experienced what I have experienced would be accepted by Denmark -- would at least be given the right of appeal. I maintain that a person in my present physical condition from Yugoslavia seeking refuge from persecution would be treated with greater compassion than I have received. Because I am persecuted and tortured, even within Denmark, by the most powerful nation on earth, I am everywhere anathematized.

  3. Denmark has violated Article 2 of the Covenant in failing to ensure that my rights, as set forth in the Covenant, are provided without distinction of any kind, and in denying me an effective domestic remedy for violations of those rights.

  4. Denmark sought to expel me, as an alien legally within its territory, without permitting me to submit the reasons against my expulsion and to have my case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority. I have no right to appeal my asylum case, have not been provided with legal counsel, and, because the police have confiscated my money, I cannot retain counsel of my own choosing. I am a physically-handicapped, chronically-ill torture victim denied due process and severely restricted in the exercise of his human rights.

I should be happy to provide further information, testimony, and documentation. Thank you for your kind attention. 

Yours truly,
(original signed)
James H. Graf

Reaffirmation of This Complaint (1996)

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