Monday, September 7, 2009

Is an emergency team for exchange students and other Danes needed?

The answer to this question must be Yes.

Once a Dane is abroad they don't enjoy the same level of protection as in Denmark. Because Denmark is properly the most sophisticated country when it comes to legal protection, the citizens living or traveling abroad will almost in every case suffer when it comes to just a little contact with local authorities.

When looking for sources related to the show trial in Miami, I found a blog entry demanding better legal protection of Danish citizens abroad regardless if they only had witness a crime. In general Danish citizens should not involve themselves with foreign matters regardless if they can help or make the matter worse. The Camilla Broe cases is a fine example of that a person is placed in a situation where none of the options available at the time can be chosen without the risk of prison or death. I have quoted the blog in full, because I feel that the viewpoint is important both for the Camilla Broe case, but also if being an exchange student should be an option in the future for any youth.

Right now a Danish woman, a former exchange student is detained at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.

Why is she there?

Back in 1986 she entered the United States as an exchange student. Her letters back to
Denmark made the family relocate to Florida where the father was a valued worker. Instead of returning back to Denmark, she remained in Florida and worked in various job.
It was a critical error.

First being exchange student is like owning an ant farm. As an exchange student your purpose is to study the native and often primitive culture. It is not for fun that a full year in a United States high school awards you no credits when returning to Denmark. The curriculum in Danish High Schools is very advanced compared with any kind of education offered in the U.S. Second of all High School Students study for tests instead of taking a critical and analyzing approach to both the teacher and the texts. Third but not least the U.S: High School have no Friday bars like the Danish Schools so the students cannot socialize and unlike Denmark it results in students becoming isolated and some incidents involving shootings done by marginalized youth.

But as an exchange student you should settle with this monitoring of the foreign
culture and not interact or socialize with persons in it. The situation can be compared with the Prime Directive known from Star Trek, but replace pre-warp with plus 500 years of civilization. Of course socializing with the host family cannot be avoided, but exchange students should be content with that. For some this long period of semi-isolation is too much and that is exactly why the relatives in Denmark should pull the exchange student from the exchange program at once.

Camilla Broe did choose to enter a relationship with a man who turned out to be very violent. In fact you can read from a transcript made in a related case how he threatened another man.

Then there is the smuggling operation she is charged with. In fact the first set of charges spoke of conspiracy. Now it is changed to other charges to justify the extradition process. Conspiracy is not a crime in Denmark and that’s why the new set of charges was fabricated within 24 hours before she was extradited.

What did happen was that this man, she had a relationship with, did smuggle drugs into the United States. She lived of the profit due to the relationship as a kind of golden bird in a cage. Once he was arrested she was able to leave the country, which she did in 2001.

Just before she left, she was “asked” to testify against her boyfriend. In the link to the Supreme Court case you can see that the way the question properly was formed as a kind of threat. God only knows what they told her. But she did the only right thing at the moment. She secured the future of her child.

Some year later she charged secretly in Florida. Not until 2007 did anything happen in this case. At that time her boyfriend made a deal where he could leave jail and get deported to Italy where he lives today in exchange to cook enough charges against her, so the charges became so severe that it could justify an extradition process.

Then followed two years of court proceedings in Denmark where the Danish court failed to see that the charge against her was conspiracy which is not a crime in Denmark.
The fact that a charge was in the paper, which does not exist in Danish law, should have stopped the extradition case because the extradition agreement tells that a certain charge must be on an act, which is a crime in both countries. That is not the case here.

She was extradited September 4, 2009. In order to prevent too much disturbance in the press, the government deported 22 refugees to Iraq a couple of days before so their path towards certain death occupied the Danish media and protesters. It seems to work.

She is expected to make a plea of “No contest” because she cannot afford a defense and in United States courts income does make a difference. Second of all the terms of the extraditions agreement grants her a return ticket to Denmark within 6 months after the judge had sentenced her. Also the extradition agreement states that she will be given a new sentence in Denmark because the laws in Florida are not judged as

The original question which was whether she did to the right thing, the answer must be Yes. Had she stayed in Florida, she might have been spared of the long extradition trial but in a world of plea bargains, which is considered of no morale to participate in, she would have lost anyway. She would have aided a foreign regime and might have criminalized herself by such an aid risking jail for certain paragraphs about espionage according to Danish law.

Now she is of course facing daily torture in a detention center, but it was a loose-loose situation once she broke the “prime directive” of an exchange student. There was no other way not taken.So now you can find all sorts of webpages with warnings for families considering the exchange student experience. People are doing a good job in reducing the number of teenagers in danger. But more can be done.

In United Kingdom they have a branch in their foreign department called Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They have an emergency team ready to rescue citizens in a potential dangerous situation abroad.

Such a service should be available to Danish citizens also, so they can be pulled from whatever situation before they are stuck with the poor choices Camilla Broe had. It doesn’t matter whether they just witness a crime. Whenever it brings them into contact with the local law enforcements, the emergency unit should be able to have them on a
plane within 24 hours bound for Denmark and safety.

The present situation is close to suicide for anyone considering to live or study abroad.

I support the creation of such an emergency team.

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