Before COVID, the Danish Institute of Human Rights handed Hunan University School of Law in China, a grant of one million DKK to use for various courses and training in human rights.
Due to the shutdown those courses were not held before the end of the project. Now the Institute for Human Rights wants the money back. The Chinese university that received the money refuses to pay back the grant. Instead, Hunan University wants to extend the project so that it can use the Danish development aid. The Institute for Human Rights rejects this.
The institute has lost faith that it can make a difference in China. Therefore, they would rather have the unused money back. The grant in question is close to a million Danish tax kroner.
“We do not see sufficient opportunities to carry out activities in China that promote human rights,” says Mette Thygesen, head of the Danish institute. She expects that it could be a long and expensive round of legal fees to reclaim the Danish development aid.
A matter of principles
“Of course, we have to consider how we do it and whether the legal assessment is that it is hopeless. But there is zero tolerance for cases of abuse,” she says and adds, that it’s a matter of principle.
The Institute for Human Rights already informed the Chinese university in March 2021, that the project would not be extended beyond the end of the year, and that unused money would have to be refunded.
“It is completely valid practice,” Thygesen explains.
In an email response to the Danish institute, Hunan University School of Law states, that they do not agree that they are obliged to repay the remaining money because they intend to finish the project.
“We have clearly said, that we will complete the three remaining courses in accordance with the contract after the end of the epidemic,” the email continues.
The Institute for Human Rights maintains that, according to the contract with the Chinese university, the institute has the right to reclaim unused money after the end of the project.