Banishment is a poor tool in fight against terrorism: Roach and Forcese

Apart from the principled concern regarding revocation (two classes of citizenship), Roach and Forcese outline practical concerns:

Given all this, how should we evaluate revocation as anti-terrorism? Cancelling the citizenship of convicted terrorists may be politically popular because it appeals to our fear and anger at terrorists. However, there are both principled and practical concerns about revocation as an anti-terror tool.

The principled issue can be summarized simply: Whether a government can take away citizenship (for something other than fraud in acquiring it) is a totally novel constitutional issue. The question has never arisen, because revocation of this sort has never existed since the Charter came into existence. But if Canadian courts follow the path of their U.S. counterparts, they will guard sternly against revocations.

Add to that the discriminatory nature of the citizenship-stripping law – confined to dual nationals – and the due process minimalism that afflicts the system and you have the makings for a serious constitutional dust-up.

But focus also on the practical issues. In the best-case scenario, the government actually banishes a truly dangerous individual, but only by displacing risk to a foreign country, even assuming that foreign state co-operates in their removal.

In the worst case, the government tries to remove the individual to the tender embraces of a torturing state. Under international law, no one can be removed to face torture and maltreatment. And whatever it might have said in earlier cases, the Supreme Court would have to ignore a lot of its recent Charter pronouncements to permit deportations to torture.

And so, since the men the government wishes to banish would be removed to countries with poor records on torture, we should expect citizenship revocation proceedings to spill over to endless disputes over deportation.

The last time we tried this – with “security certificates” – the government was budgeting more than $5-million a year, a person, by 2009 in its decade-long effort (so far 100-per-cent unsuccessful) to use a procedurally doubtful process to remove people to maltreatment.

To put that in context: The entire national annual budget for the RCMP’s much-delayed front-line “terrorism prevention program” has been $1.1-million (slated to rise to a very modest $3.1-million under the 2015 budget).

There is every reason to believe, therefore, that Canada is now repeating its prioritization of expensive, noisy, controversial, often-fruitless efforts to chase problems out of the country, rather than focus on fixing them before they become problems.

Moreover, despite intelligence warnings about prison radicalization, Canada has no developed policy countering prison radicalization.

Inattention to what experts call terrorist “disengagement” is a mistake. If the Islamic State’s call to violence resonates among the disaffected, there should be more prosecutions and convictions. Some convicts, such as the VIA train plotters, will be sentenced to life imprisonment, but others will not. They will eventually be released. It is in all our interests to attempt to rehabilitate them.

Citizenship-stripping of those terrorists who have dual nationality reduces pressure to take this matter seriously by fostering the illusion that we can simply prosecute and deport our way out of the problem of IS-inspired terrorism.

Source: Banishment is a poor tool in fight against terrorism – The Globe and Mail

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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