A seemingly small ruling in Denmark is alarming refugee advocates that a new precedent could be set for Europe to send Syrians seeking asylum back to their war-torn home.

On Tuesday, Denmark’s Refugee Appeals Board denied asylum requests by three Syrian women, arguing that they didn’t face any individual dangers in returning to their hometown of Damascus, the Syrian government-controlled capital. The board’s ruling upheld a decision by the Danish Immigration Service.

Human rights and refugee advocates, however, condemned the decision, saying recent reports have documented a general danger to any Syrian returning to Damascus, where daily fighting has died down but returnees still face the threat of arrests, interrogations, torture, conscription and even death.

“Just because the Syrian war is coming to the end doesn’t mean there’s no need for protection of Syrian refugees,” said Mai El-Sadany, the legal and judicial director at the Tahrir Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on Middle East policy. Other countries facing anti-refugee sentiment, she said, “can now be looking to Denmark as an example.”

The problem, refugee advocates say, is that there’s no way to ensure that returnees won’t be endangered once back in Damascus, where the government of President Bashar al-Assad is highly suspicious of anyone who left and continues to conscript men into the military and arbitrarily arrest and restrict civilians.

During the past two years, almost 2,000 people have been detained after returning to Syria, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has found.