New citizenship deprivation [revocation] rules in the wake of Paris attacks

Good update of citizenship revocation measures:

The terrorist attacks that happened in Paris on 13 November 2015 have been followed by a toughening of citizenship rules in a number of countries. This is reflected in both a more cautious approach to naturalisation and in proposals to withdraw or deny citizenship to suspects of terrorism (and occasionally to their families).

Increased security concerns adversely affected the Italian attempts to introduce ius soli temperato (moderated ius soli) for second generation migrants. Moderated ius soli would allow children born to foreign nationals in possession of a European Union Long Term Residence Permit to acquire Italian nationality by registration before the eighteenth birthday.

Yet considerably more countries have proposed, and some have already adopted, provisions on grounds of which suspects of terrorism would be deprived of their citizenship.

Three days after the attacks in Paris, speaking at a joint session of both houses of the French parliament, the country’s President François Hollande  proposed citizenship deprivation for dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism.

On 22 November 2015, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put forward a motion to allow the country’s government to withdraw citizenship of those who join the Islamic State.

In early December, the authorities of Dagestan, a Russian federal unit located in the North Caucasus, proposed to the Russian Duma to amend the country’s citizenship law to deprive of citizenship those who ‘left Russia to take part in terrorist activities’.

Similar initiative has also resonated in the Belgian public discourse, where he Flemish nationalist party NVA, argues for amendments to citizenship law to allow the deprivation of nationality to descendants of Belgian citizens (second and third generations) convicted of terrorism. The current citizenship legislation allows withdrawal of citizenship, but only for those who are not born Belgians, or who have acquired citizenship by naturalisation.

Two countries, Australia and Azerbaijan have already amended their legislation in this regard.

Australia has moved to strip dual nationals who ‘have fought in government-designated militant groups or engaged in activities that would support terrorism, such as training, recruitment, or making donations’ already in June 2015 when it adopted the Allegiance to Australia bill. In December 2015, the bill was amended and leads to automatic loss of Australian citizenship for individuals suspected of terrorism who are 14 years or older, even in the absence of conviction. Under the new provisions, citizenship lost on grounds of sections 33AA and 35 cannot be regained. Civil society organisations consider this a controversial and possibly unconstitutional move that creates two classes of citizenship.

The parliament of Azerbaijan amended the country’s s citizenship law on 4 December to withdraw citizenship of those ‘involved in terrorist activity and actions aimed at the violent change of the constitutional system of Azerbaijan’. Under the new rules, such individuals will be automatically deprived of Azerbaijani citizenship.

For more details on the current and past citizenship laws of Italy, France, Belgium and Russia consult our country profile pages.


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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