British man made stateless by Home Office has citizenship reinstated

Of note:

A British man who was stripped of his citizenship by the Home Office for almost five years has described the “devastating” impact of the decision as the government pursues fresh powers to remove a person’s citizenship without warning.

The 40-year-old, who was born in London, returns to the UK this week after being stranded in Bangladesh since 2017 when the Home Office served a deprivation of citizenship order on him shortly after he flew to the country for the birth of his second daughter.

E3, as he is referred to in court documents, was working in the UK when he travelled to Bangladesh but not earning enough to sponsor his wife to join him and has since been stateless and destitute with his wife and three daughters.

According to the Home Office’s deprivation order, the Briton was “an Islamist extremist who had previously sought to travel abroad to participate in terrorism-related activity” and that he posed a threat to national security.

Although the UK government has reinstated his citizenship, his lawyers say they have received no explanation or any specific details to support the claims. E3 has never been charged with any criminal offence in the UK or elsewhere.

E3 told the Observer: “The allegation against me is so vague that it even suggests that I only tried to travel to some unknown destination to take part in an unspecified activity related to terrorism.

“How on earth do you defend yourself against an allegation like that, especially when the government relies on secret evidence? The disclosure my solicitors received was almost entirely redacted so I have no idea what the government is referring to.

“Why was I not arrested and questioned? Why have I been punished in this way without ever being shown a single piece of evidence against me? The government should admit that they have made a mistake and own up to it.”

It comes as politicians consider controversial plans contained in the contentious nationality and borders bill, which is going through the House of Lords, to allow the Home Office to remove someone’s citizenship without the need to inform them.

Source: British man made stateless by Home Office has citizenship reinstated

Pakistan to give citizenship to Afghan, Chinese and American Sikh investors

Hard to know how successful this citizenship-by-investment scheme will be in comparison to those of other questions as the Pakistani passport has limited visa-free travel privileges (number 88 on the passport index). One also has to ask questions regarding the risks of criminal or corrupt backgrounds of those who will apply:

The Pakistan government has decided to offer permanent residency to foreign investors, especially to fetch heavy investments from wealthy Afghans, Chinese and American Sikhs, Dawn reported.

In a tweet late on Friday night, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: “In line with new National Security Policy, through which Pakistan declared geo-economics as the core of its national security doctrine, the government has decided to allow permanent residency scheme for foreign nationals. The new policy allows foreigners to get permanent resident status in lieu of investment.”

The government believes it will fetch billions of dollars in foreign investment by giving Pakistani nationality and proprietary rights to the foreign investors, the Dawn news report said.

An informed source said that the government wanted to attract heavy investments from the wealthy Afghan nationals who were presently investing in countries such as Iran, Turkey and Malaysia.

They said the government also hoped that US-based Sikh nationals would be happy to make investment in different sectors in Pakistan due to their attachment with Sikh religious sites in the country, the report added

Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his recent statements hinted that he wanted to attract top Chi­n­ese investors who relocated their industries to other countries in the region, according to Indo-Asian News Service.

The government also hoped that rich Arab nationals, who used to visit Pakistan every year for hunting purposes, would like to have Pakistani citizenship.

Source: Pakistan to give citizenship to Afghan, Chinese and American Sikh investors

Russia has started issuing ‘non-citizen passports.’ What does that mean?

Of note:

On January 11, Eva Merkacheva, who sits on the Presidential Council for Human Rights, told RIA Novosti that Russia had granted its first ever “non-citizen passport” to Yakubdzhan Khakimdzhanov, a stateless person originally from Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The 53-year-old immigrated to Astrakhan at the age of five, but never received Russian citizenship.

Later, Elena Burtina of the migrants’ rights organization Civic Assistance Committee clarified to Meduza that authorities in Moscow began issuing “non-citizen passports” in December 2021. Other Russian regions began issuing these identity documents even earlier, with roughly 600 people obtaining them last year.

What is a “non-citizen”? Is this a legal term in Russia?

Russia doesn’t have a separate legal category of “non-citizens,” such as in Latvia and Estonia, for example. The people receiving “non-citizen passports” in Russia are, in fact, stateless persons. In Russian law, this refers to a category of people who are not citizens of Russia, but who also don’t have proof that they have the citizenship of a foreign state. According to the Interior Ministry, there are an estimated 4,500 stateless persons living in Russia today. As of August 2021, each of these people are eligible for a green “Temporary identity card of a stateless person in the Russian Federation.”

How does a person end up stateless?

Situations may vary, but in Russia stateless persons typically held citizenship of the former USSR. They may have been born in one of the union republics and, shortly before or after the collapse of the Soviet Union, moved to the Russian SFSR and, as a result, never received citizenship in their homeland or in Russia (unlike registered residents, who received Russian citizenship automatically). Or, they may have renounced their birth citizenship after their homeland gained independence, and never obtained another citizenship.

Why do stateless persons need “non-citizen passports”?

These temporary identity documents allow stateless people to live and work in Russia legally for a period of ten years (with the possibility of extension). Unlike foreign nationals, they don’t need to apply for a work permit or a labor patent to be employed officially.

Why does Russia make these exceptions for stateless persons?

Because they are viewed as one of the most vulnerable groups. Their legal status is considered an anomaly — one that UN member states agreed to combat in the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Russia’s citizenship law explicitly states:

“The Russian Federation shall encourage stateless persons residing in the territory of the Russian Federation to acquire Russian Federation citizenship.”

Russia also has a special citizenship process for certain categories of stateless persons. In particular, it applies to citizens of the former USSR living in Russia, as well as their children; citizens of the former USSR living in other former Soviet republics; and those who were erroneously issued Russian passports before January 1, 2010. Other stateless persons must go through the same Russian citizenship process as foreign nationals.

Source: Russia has started issuing ‘non-citizen passports.’ What does that mean?

EU looks to suspend Vanuatu from visa-free travel list over ‘citizenship for sale’ scheme

Of note. Welcome belated crackdown:

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed suspending visa-free travel between the bloc and the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. The move, which would be a global first, is aimed at curbing the practice of offering “golden passports.”

In Vanuatu, foreigners can obtain citizenship and a passport in exchange for a minimum investment of $130,000 in the country. This in turn grants them easier access to other nations, including the 27 countries that make up the European Union.

The European Commission had issued a warning that it would take this step if Vanuatu did not alter its investment-for-citizenship program. The proposal now goes to individual EU member states for approval.

If the Commission proposal is adopted, it would end visa-free travel for anyone who has acquired Vanuatu citizenship since 2015. The ban will be dropped if the government amends the rules, the Commission said.

In the proposal, the EU executive pointed to the extremely risky nature of the scheme, arguing that it accepted essentially all applicants without sufficient screening, despite some appearing in Interpol’s security databases.

Cyprus, Malta also in hot water

The Commission said it is currently monitoring similar programs or planned schemes in several other countries, including Caribbean islands and the eastern European nations of Albania, Moldova, and Montenegro.

Similar programs in Cyprus and Malta, both EU members, are currently facing legal challenges from Brussels.

Source: EU looks to suspend Vanuatu from visa-free travel list over ‘citizenship for sale’ scheme

New One-of-a-Kind World #Citizenship Report Gives Switzerland Top Spot with Asian Countries Not Far Behind [for the wealthy]

For “global citizens” read the ultra-rich or plutocrats:

CS Global Partners, the world’s leading government advisory and marketing firm, has released its much-anticipated World Citizenship Report (WCR). The WCR showcases the World Citizenship Index (WCI), a distinctive tool that compares world citizenships from the perspective of a global citizen. The index’s methodology evaluates 187 jurisdictions across five key motivators defining citizenship for the global citizen.

The top scoring countries in the World Citizenship Report (WCR)

The top scoring countries in the World Citizenship Report (WCR)

Reliance was placed on official statistics to evaluate a score for the defined motivators of Safety and Security, Quality of Life, Economic Opportunity, Global Mobility and Financial Freedom. Backed by research from leading data banks, interviews and a survey undertaken by over 500 wealthy investors, the WCR looks beyond passport strength and emphasises pivotal factors that play a role in choosing the right second citizenship.

Micha Emmett, the CEO of CS Global Partners, said that the WCR stands apart from other reports in the industry because it “examines which countries offer the most benefits for global citizens, particularly in a post-COVID world where those that have the means are consistently searching for greater opportunities and better protection.”

“We wanted to capture what truly concerns and affects a global citizen,” she said. “When there are options to gain a second or third citizenship, the first question HNWIs mind is ‘where is the next place to be associated with?'”

“High-net-worth individuals must consider a myriad of factors when deciding something as monumental as where to obtain second citizenship and build a second home. While passport strength is, of course, an important component, it is also one that is subject to the greatest change as evidenced by pandemic related travel restrictions,” she added.

Results show Switzerland scoring the highest with 88.1, followed by Denmark (88.0) in second place and Finland, Norway and Sweden tied for third (86.9). Notably, global superpowers such as the United States did not rank in the top ten, symbolising a significant shift in what these economic giants can tangibly offer the global elite. Comparatively, Asiaemerged as a hub for economic prosperity due to its business advantages, particularly Japan, which ranked sixth and Singapore, which came in seventh.

Aside from analysing the performance of countries, the WCR looks at ways HNWIs protect and grow their wealth. This includes implementing an effective financial plan that considers inheritance and wealth taxes and investing in emerging valuable assets like cryptocurrency.

The report finds that citizenship by investment (CBI) is also an effective tool for the world’s wealthiest, and it has become a trend exacerbated during the pandemic. CBI offers an alternative and time-effective solution for those who do not have a marriage, descent, or naturalisation attachment to other countries. It ultimately enables applicants to obtain a second citizenship, often within three to four months, without any former ties to the nation, as long as they can pass a multi-tiered vetting procedure.

According to the report, entrepreneurs and business people actively sought investments that stood the test of time during the thick of lockdowns. While predicting the future isn’t possible, keeping abreast of global trends has enabled many HNWIs and global citizens to identify opportunities in places they may not have considered before. The WCR aims to bring these trends to light and make the second citizenship process simpler by compiling relevant data that most concerns affluent individuals and their families.

Source: New One-of-a-Kind World Citizenship Report Gives Switzerland Top Spot with Asian Countries Not Far Behind

Galon: The inherent evil of Israel’s Citizenship Law

Of note:

The government has informed the High Court of Justice that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked plans to pass a new citizenship law within a month – and that it will preserve the racist clauses that were included in the original law. The government was responding to a petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual; Physicians for Human Rights and several Palestinian petitioners.

Shaked has continued to refuse family reunification for Palestinians, and has done so without any legal authority. Since the Knesset revoked the original Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law, 1,680 requests have been submitted, and under Shaked’s instructions the Interior Ministry has refused to discuss these requests, continuing to operate as though the law were still in effect.

The background: At the start of the second intifada the Knesset passed a law designed to prevent Palestinians living in Israel from marrying Palestinians from the territories. The Knesset understood at the time that it was a law whose constitutionality was in doubt, and which undermines the right to family life and equality, and therefore declared it a temporary “emergency provision.”

That was the excuse for the High Court: Look, this law isn’t permanent, we will discuss it on an annual basis depending on the situation. And of course, since 2003 the Knesset has approved it year after year. An “emergency provision” turned into a permanent law. And the High Court? It sighed, but didn’t rule on the matter. The justices said that the law raises difficult constitutional questions, but refrained from invalidating it. Why would they need this headache?

Six months ago the coalition was unable to garner a majority and the law was revoked. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised the Meretz party – which supported the racist law – that he would change the law. And what did Shaked do? She announced that she doesn’t care, and that she forbids family reunification even if she has no legal authority to do so. Instead of the State Prosecutor’s Office ordering her to return to the situation prior to the passing of the law – in other words, an individual examination of every request for reunification – Gil Limon, the deputy attorney general, declared that he supports the law.

Hold on a moment, my friend Limon. It is now 2022. The law that was passed 20 years ago originated in the days of the second intifada and the security situation that ensued from it. But that was over 17 years ago. How can you pretend, 17 years later, that the security situation in 2002 is still relevant today? The law that you are approving – wouldn’t it be preferable for it to suit the actual security situation?

Excuse me for the bad joke. The Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law was always justified with security excuses, but it has no real connection with security. Justice Edmond Levy mocked this claim during my petitions and those of human rights organizations, and noted that Israel permits Palestinian workers to enter its jurisdiction.

And here precisely is the crux of the matter: The law does not protect Israel’s security, and was never designed to do so. It is designed to allay the demographic fears of Israeli Jews. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said so at the time, and half a year ago Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid repeated his words: “We don’t have to hide from the essence of the citizenship law, it is designed to ensure a Jewish majority in the country.”

The significance of Lapid’s words is that Israel is not a democracy. It has a large, native-born minority whose rights will always be inferior to those of the majority. This native-born minority won’t be able to realize its family-related rights or aspire to happiness. One of the advantages of this government is that Israeli Arabs are participating in it. If Shaked throws the Arab community to the dogs, Bennett, Lapid and their comrades should be aware that they won’t have another government after the election. Perhaps this utilitarian argument will succeed in overcoming the law’s built-in evil.

Source: The inherent evil of Israel’s Citizenship Law

In Egypt, some are forced to trade citizenship for freedom

Of note:

On January 8, Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath arrived in Paris after Egyptian authorities released him from prison and deported him after over 900 days in remand detention. He walkedout of Charles de Gaulle Airport with his wife Celine Lebrun-Shaath to a cheering crowd of supporters. Yet the conditions of his release were no cause for celebration — Shaath was forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship in exchange for his freedom.

In a statement announcing his release, Shaath’s family said: “No one should have to choose between their freedom and their citizenship. Ramy was born Egyptian, raised as an Egyptian, and Egypt has always been and will always be his homeland; no coerced renunciation of citizenship under duress will ever change that.”

Throughout the two and a half years of Shaath’s imprisonment, his wife Celine Lebrun-Shaath, a French national who was deported from Egypt upon his arrest, led a longstanding public campaign for his release. French President Emmanuel Macron also made a direct demand for Shaath to be released during a December 2020 press conference alongside President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, held after bilateral talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Over the last six months, the National Security Agency had been communicating with Shaath’s family to begin the process of his citizenship renunciation, and to arrange for his deportation, according to a source informed of discussions around his release, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity. Those procedures came to a head on January 1, when Shaath’s lawyer submitted an official document to the Supreme Administrative Court saying that he would drop his Egyptian citizenship, the source added.

Shaath was released on January 6, according to the family, and handed over to a representative of the Palestinian Authority at Cairo International Airport, where he boarded a flight to the Jordanian capital, Amman. He then traveled on to Paris.

The controversial practice is based on a decree — known as Law 140 — issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in November 2014 that allows the repatriation of foreign prisoners to their home countries, at the president’s discretion, to serve their time or be retried there.

The decree was issued five months after three Al-Jazeera journalists — Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on terrorism charges in a high profile case that sparked international condemnation and was criticized by human rights groups, Western governments and the United Nations. According to lawyer Negad al-Borai, who represented Fahmy in the case, Law 140 was issued to allow for the release and deportation of Greste to his native Australia. Less than three months after the decree was issued, Greste was indeeddeported.

Around that time, Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship in the hope of being deported to Canada. Fahmy told Mada Masr at the time that senior officials had visited him in detention and told him that renouncing Egyptian citizenship was his “only way out.” Fahmy refused at first, but said he felt pressured and wanted to get out of prison. The move did not work and he was only released, along with Baher Mohamed, after they received presidential pardons in September 2015 following a retrial. Fahmy has since regained his Egyptian citizenship.

Months earlier, in May 2015, Mohamed Soltan, an Egyptian-American activist imprisoned for over 640 days, was forced to relinquish his citizenship in order to be released from prison and deported to the United States after direct appeals from the Obama administration.

Soltan’s case included an additional twist. During a visit to Capitol Hill in July 2021, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel insisted to US officials that Washington had promised in 2015 that if Egypt released Soltan he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in a US prison, according to Politico. Kamel even handed congressional staffers what appeared to be a signed agreement between Egyptian and American officials laying out such an arrangement. Sources told Politico that a State Department employee signed the document when it was pushed on them at the airport at the last minute, as U.S. officials were trying to get Soltan out of the country, and that the document was not legally enforceable.

In any case, forcing Egyptians to renounce their citizenship in order to be deported remains a highly controversial, and arguably illegal, practice.

Lawyer Gamal Eid of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information says that Law 140 is unconstitutional, as it creates a privilege for non-Egyptians. “The idea was to cower to foreign governments and polish the regime’s image, but the decree breaches the principle that all are equal before the law, which is a supra-constitutional principle.” Eid says he is not condoning the continued imprisonment of dissidents, rather, he says they should all be released, not just the foreign nationals.

While the decree doesn’t force anyone to drop their nationality, the choice between citizenship and freedom is not really a choice. Hussein Baoumi, an Egypt researcher at Amnesty International told Mada Masr it is more accurate to say that Shaath and Soltan were forced to cede their Egyptian citizenship, which he says is unconstitutional.

“This practice we are now seeing in Egypt of trading citizenship for freedom is against the constitution and the citizenship law, and is also a blatant breach of the stipulations of international law about rescinding one’s citizenship. It circumvents the provisions of the law regulating such a measure,” Baoumi says.

The 1975 citizenship law stipulates that a number of conditions be met before the state can rescind citizenship from an Egyptian national. Yet, this law does not apply in Shaath or Soltan’s case because they technically relinquished their citizenship themselves. However, both Soltan and Shaath contend they had no choice in the matter.

Following Shaath’s release, Soltan tweeted: “To be given a choice between your freedom and your citizenship is easy, for freedom always and forever comes first, and this doesn’t take away from your belonging to your country because that is in the heart. As for a regime that conditions enjoying your most basic citizenship rights of freedom and life upon your dropping your nationality, it is a regime that is reinforcing its repressive philosophy: to be a citizen necessarily means not to be free.”

Source: In Egypt, some are forced to trade citizenship for freedom

Portugal: Is a ‘just law’ turned into a ‘golden visa’?

Valid question, highlighting potential abuse of such programs:

Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich’s acquisition of Portuguese citizenship under a 2015 law that repatriates descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled during the Inquisition has reignited debate about the piece of legislation.

Data from last year shows that at least 76,000 people have applied for a Portuguese passport through the law and 23,000 of them have been approved. Spain also has passed similar legislation.
Abramovich, a businessman and the prominent owner of the popular Chelsea soccer club in London, applied for citizenship by claiming an affiliation with the Jewish Community of Porto, the Israeli news site Ynet reported last month.

Unconfirmed reports have claimed that some of Abramovich’s family have Sephardic roots.

Eastern Europe had formerly been the home of many thousands of Jews with Sephardic ancestry.
Sephardic immigrants in 1588 founded the Jewish community of Zamosc in eastern Poland, among other places.

But Abramovich’s use of the law prompted unusual scrutiny and criticism in Portugal, which is a member of the European Union and whose citizens may reside anywhere they choose within the bloc.

Portuguese radio station TSF aired and published a statement on Dec. 28 by investigative journalist Daniel Oliveira, in which he accused the Jewish Community of Porto of turning “a just law into a ‘golden visa’ by hitching a ride on our crimes from the past.”

Oliveira suggested that the ties between the Jewish Community of Porto and Abramovich are “not clear,” and said he believes that the Porto communal organization is less reliable in vetting applications than the Jewish Community of Lisbon group.

AbrilAbril published an editorial last week calling for the citizenship law to be revised, and suggesting that Abramovich and other recipients of Portuguese nationality under the law are using their influence to keep it unchanged.

The Jewish Community of Porto confirmed that it handled Abramovich’s citizenship application, for a fee of 250 euros, or about $283. The Lisbon Jewish community has had data on Abramovich’s ancestors for years, the Porto group added.

It also dismissed claims that Abramovich’s naturalization was divergent in any way from the 2015 law and its procedures.

The Porto organization told JTA that it is now witnessing “an anti-Semitic wave” on social media following the debate about Abramovich.

In 2020, Portugal’s ruling Socialist party withdrew plans to limit the law amid criticism by local Jewish groups that claimed that the proposed changes were partly motivated by anti-Semitism.

The European Jewish Congress also vocally opposed the changes.

The government has entrusted the two communal organizations in Lisbon and Porto with vetting the authenticity of citizenship applications, for which they charge hundreds of dollars in processing fees. A third community in Belmonte is attempting to also gain vetting status.

Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, said last week that Abramovich’s naturalization “was done according to the law” and called criticism of it “unjustified.”

Source: Portugal: Is a ‘just law’ turned into a ‘golden visa’?

Palestinians seek Israeli citizenship in Jerusalem

Of interest, particularly given the various issues at play:

A number of Palestinians in Jerusalem are seeking to obtain Israeli citizenship, in the hope of living in stability amid the prevalent difficult economic and living situation in Jerusalem. Obtaining Israeli citizenship has its advantages, such as health insurance, social security and freedom of movement.

Israel, for its part, could have covert reasons for naturalizing Jerusalemites, most notably breaking their bond with the West Bank.

According to a report by the Israeli Maariv channel on Sept. 16, 2017, the Israeli government decided, back in June 1967, to amend the process of granting citizenship to residents of Jerusalem, by granting them the legal status of permanent residents, within the scope of continuous efforts to reduce their numbers as much as possible.

The Israeli residency confers to its holder the right to live and work in Israel, as well as other economic and social rights. Thus, Jerusalemites get social security allowances dubbed “national insurance benefits,” and in return they pay taxes to the Israeli authorities. Jerusalemites also have the right to vote in Israeli municipal elections and to run as candidates for membership in the Municipal Council.

According to Article 5 of the Israeli Nationality Law, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can apply for citizenship if several conditions are met, including having some knowledge of the Hebrew language, having resided in Israel for the last three years, swearing an oath of loyalty to the State of Israel and giving up the temporary Jordanian passport. Moreover, these residents should not have harbored any animosity toward Israel.

Khalil al-Tafkaji, director of the map department at the Arab Studies Association, told Al-Monitor, “Palestinians in Jerusalem are permanent residents with the right to reside inside the State of Israel. Therefore, Israel granted them a resident document after the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967. Until 1987, they were issued Jordanian documents of identity but not the Jordanian citizenship. During 1988, the Kingdom of Jordan decided to disengage from the West Bank, after the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat declared the State of Palestine.”

After the disengagement, Jordan severed its legal and administrative relations with the West Bank in 1988, and the Jordanian documents granted by the Jordanian government to the residents of the West Bank during that period were withdrawn.

Tafkaji said, “Options have become limited and difficult for the residents of the city of Jerusalem. If anyone manages to obtain the citizenship of a foreign country, he will be expelled after three months of obtaining it. If he manages to obtain Palestinian citizenship, his property will be confiscated by the Israeli authorities. Meanwhile, obtaining Israeli citizenship enables these Jerusalemites to keep their residency and stability and move and travel anywhere around the world, specifically to countries that allow the holders of the Israeli passport to enter without obtaining a prior entry visa.”

He noted, “Around 7,000 Jerusalemites obtained Israeli citizenship in 1993. Then, the granting of Israeli citizenship followed an upward trend with numbers reaching 21,000 naturalized Jerusalemites. However, recently, Israel began imposing restrictions on applications for citizenship. This falls within the scope of the Israeli government’s efforts to expel them from the city.”

Tafkaji said that the current restrictions imposed by Israel on residents of Jerusalem seeking to obtain Israeli citizenship aim to displace 200,000 Palestinians with residency status outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem toward areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA). “Israel is trying to get rid of them, after controlling 87% of the city’s surface area. Israel wants to use the Palestinian residents in Jerusalem as a pressure card in any future negotiations between Israel and the PA,” he added.

In February 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court, according to Haaretz newspaper, obliged the Ministry of Interior to expedite the examination of the applications of Jerusalemites, after a lawsuit filed by Israeli lawyers representing Jerusalemites who applied for naturalization.

Nasser al-Hadmi, head of the Jerusalem Committee for Resisting Displacement, told Al-Monitor that before former US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel, there was a great Israeli desire to naturalize a large number of Jerusalem residents in order for the city to have a Jewish majority. Once the United States recognized Israel’s status, Israel reduced the number of naturalizations of Jerusalemites, and it is currently seeking to displace Jerusalemites and expel them rather than naturalize them. This is evidenced, for instance, by the evictions and displacements of a number of residents of the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods.

He said, “Around 80,000 naturalization applications have been submitted by the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities to obtain Israeli citizenship. But Israel so far approved only a limited number of them. Recently, after Jerusalem was recognized as Israel’s capital by the US administration and some other countries, Israel no longer seems so interested in naturalizing a large number of Jerusalemites, which it sees as a minority that does reflect a civilized image of the city.”

Hadmi noted that the Israeli authorities force Jerusalemites seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge full loyalty to it, and accept to become second- or third-class citizens. “The best example is the discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territories in 1948, who are not treated on equal footing with Israeli residents. Israel believes that citizens of Jewish origin are better than other naturalized citizens from other countries,” he said.

He added, “The Israeli authorities have, for nearly 10 years now, put expiry dates on the identity cards they give to the residents of Jerusalem in order to be able to reside in the city and move across all Palestinian areas. When Jerusalemites try to renew their identity card, Israeli authorities would blackmail them, and refuse to easily renew the identity cards of those who threaten Israel’s security. This enables Israel to reduce the number of Jerusalemites granted the Israeli nationality.

Yael Ronen, professor of law at the Academic Center for Science and Law and researcher at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, noted in one of her articles posted on the Forum of Regional Thinking on Jan. 27, 2021, that developments may occur regarding the situation of tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Jerusalem represented in the possibility of obtaining Israeli citizenship. She noted that there are 330,000 Palestinians in the eastern part of Jerusalem and that the Population and Immigration Authority of the Israeli Ministry of Interior published a procedure to apply for citizenship under Article 4(a) of the Nationality Law.

She explained that since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, no Israeli steps have been taken to grant citizenship to residents, in light of the lack of interest in it and the Israeli objection to it. She noted that Palestinians are refraining from submitting requests for citizenship, as this could be interpreted as recognition by them of Israel’s sovereignty over the city.

Source: Palestinians seek Israeli citizenship in Jerusalem

Chris Selley: A dumb citizenship law, easily fixed, is finally headed to court [not so easily, not so simple]

Whenever someone says “simple problem” or “easily fixed,” they don’t fully understand the policy and operational issues involved. Surprising from someone as seasoned as Selley, who normally does his homework before condemning an “idiot law.”

Over reliance on anecdotes, bereft of any understanding of the issues and practicalities involved. No discussion of the problems encountered in the previous retention provisions, which were difficult to administer fairly and transparently. And no discussion of the parliamentary discussions and report that discussed the provision.

Not in the Minister’s mandate letter but issue has been percolating for some time.

Will be interesting to see how courts respond to the lawyer’s argumentation (hopefully stronger than his overblown rhetoric as quoted in the article:

Gregory Burgess certainly presents as a full-blooded 46-year-old Canadian. He has long, deep roots in this country, and none anywhere else: His great-grandparents emigrated from Ukraine in 1894 and settled the Edna-Star colony in Alberta. He was born a Canadian citizen. He attended elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions in Edmonton. He holds only a Canadian passport, he says, and has never had permanent legal status anywhere else.

But he was born abroad — in Connecticut, where his American father was working at the time. And much to his horror, he recently discovered what that means: His son, Philip, who was born three months ago in Hong Kong — where Burgess works in building information management — has no claim to Canadian citizenship. Indeed, because foreigners’ children have no official status in Hong Kong, Philip is currently stateless.

That’s been the law in Canada for 13 years: No matter how purely and unequivocally Canadian you might be, if you happen to have been born abroad to a Canadian parent, then you cannot pass your citizenship on automatically to your children unless they are born on Canadian soil.

Burgess can apply to sponsor Philip as a dependant-child immigrant to Canada, but there are no guarantees. (There are medical tests to be passed, for example.) And Burgess says the government has mooted timelines of up to two years to arrive at a solution. His Hong Kong work visa expires in six months.

“If my son doesn’t have citizenship, and I have to leave in six months, and my son technically does too — because he will be connected to me; that’s the only reason he would be allowed to stay here — (then) I don’t know exactly what the (Canadian) government expects,” says Burgess, exasperated. “Like, where he’s supposed to go and where I’m supposed to go.”

Philip may have a claim to Russian citizenship through his mother: Burgess met Viktoriya Kharzhanovich in 2017 in Shanghai, where she was a student, later becoming a translator and a quality-assurance manager in the textiles industry; they married in September. But Gregory isn’t sure about his own claim. He and Viktoriya are only just now wrapping their minds around this dilemma, on top of caring for an infant.

In any event, they don’t want to move to Russia — and there is no earthly reason they ought to have to. But Ottawa has already denied their application for a temporary passport for Philip. And in the meantime, even if some country is willing to provide Philip with travel documents, it’s entirely possible they will have to be separated.

In theory, Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser could intervene in a case like this on humanitarian grounds. In practice, citizenship ministers rarely do that.

Now-retired airline pilot Don Chapman has been advocating on behalf of “Lost Canadians” in this situation — and many other equally bizarre situations — for many years. Seemingly no one in Ottawa is willing to go on record in support of the status quo. But despite various tweaks to Canada’s utterly byzantine citizenship laws over the years, this simple problem never gets solved. And now it has finally landed in the courts.

The Burgess family will soon be joining seven others as applicants to a constitutional challenge filed in December in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Lawyer Sujit Choudhry, who represents the families, argues the law discriminates unjustifiably not just on grounds of national origin, but of gender as well. “It’s quite frankly insulting to my women clients to be told to basically stop working, to arrive in Canada without health insurance, to not have an obstetrician or gynecologist (and have a baby)” just to avoid this ridiculously overbroad and arbitrary law, Choudhry convincingly argues.

The “second generation born abroad” problem dates back to the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. After the then-Conservative government helped evacuate Canadian citizens from Lebanon, a few of the evacuees turned up in the news kvetching about the quality of the service. Some had tenuous connections to Canada. People got angry about “citizens of convenience,” and the government hatched this very blunt solution: Henceforth, no Canadian citizen who wasn’t born in Canada could pass on citizenship to any foreign-born children of their own.

The absurd results are particularly visible within families. Burgess has a younger sister who was born in Edmonton; if Philip was her Hong Kong-born baby, he would automatically be eligible for a passport. And it doesn’t even solve the issue that the Lebanon situation flagged. If Gregory and Viktoriya had made a three-week trip to Canada to give birth and returned immediately to Hong Kong, precisely nothing useful would have been accomplished vis-à-vis Canadian citizenship.

Luckily, there is an obvious solution other than simply letting Canadians pass down citizenship in perpetuity, no questions asked: Part of the process of naturalizing as a Canadian citizen is proving your substantial ongoing connection to the country. Why not simply ask the same of Gregory Burgess and other Canadians who have done nothing wrong except take a job overseas, fall in love and make what they assumed would be a brand-new Canadian?

The lawsuit is one last opportunity for the government finally to pull its thumb out and fix the problem. Arguing for the status quo in court would be especially humiliating for a Liberal government, wedded as it is to the internationalist vision of Canada in the world. But having followed this file for some years now, I’m sorry to say that’s the most likely outcome. If so, I intend to write more about this idiot law and its victims in the new year.