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FILE PHOTO: Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen visits the Danish Air Force team during their NATO air policing mission in Siauliai, Lithuania January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

(reuters_tickers)

By Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - National courts should be able to expel foreign criminals more easily, Denmark's prime minister on Wednesday told a European rights body that his country currently chairs.

Denmark's Supreme Court last year ruled that four Romanians accused in their home country of human trafficking could not be expelled because the conditions in Romania's prisons would violate their human rights.

"It is simply not fair, that countries like Denmark end up housing foreign criminals, because of the poor prison conditions in their home countries," Lars Lokke Rasmussen told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The Council is a 47-nation human rights body that has no legislative powers.

"We need a system that is tougher on countries that do not fulfil their human rights obligations," Rasmussen said.

"At the same time we need a system that does not interfere too much in countries who take human rights seriously."

Rasmussen's said that Denmark will in April host a ministerial conference under the aegis of the Council, aimed at giving "new impetus to the ongoing reform of the (human rights) Convention system".

Proposals would include greater leeway to expel foreign criminals, but chances of the Council approving such a motion appear slim as some delegates have argued it would undermine the legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights.

Danish governments, regardless of political persuasion, have traditionally defended and endorsed European human rights conventions.

The three-party minority coalition that Rasmussen heads relies on the anti-immigration People's Party to pass legislation.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen; editing by John Stonestreet)

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