‘Would you like to come to Canada?’ What officials are doing for Canadians held in Syria over ISIS allegations

While I suppose the Canadian government has to offer some form of consular assistance, never seen anything to indicate that “Jihadi Jack” had any substantive connection to Canada except for the genes from his father as he spent most of his life in the UK and thus substantively, if not legally, is the UK’s responsibility.

So while I remain opposed to revoking citizenship in cases of terrorism or treason, no great efforts should be expended on consular support in such cases even if I understand that parents will explore all opportunities for their child:

“I’m from the government of Canada. Do you want assistance from us?”

“Yes,” Jack Letts, replied.

“If so, what kind?”

“Please get me out of this place.”

With that, a Canadian consular official began an hour-long online exchange with Letts, a British 22-year-old with Canadian citizenship who is imprisoned by Kurdish forces in Syria.

A transcript of the conversation, which Global Affairs Canada sent to his parents, who then shared it with Global News along with other documents, offers a rare look at how Ottawa is handling such cases.

They show that Canadian consular officials have been trying to find out where the Canadians are being detained in order to give them consular assistance.

The officials have communicated with the Kurdish authorities over concerns about torture allegations and medical attention for the detainees, the documents show.

But they also told the parents in an email that while they would try to get Letts to a third country, likely Turkey, they could not make any promises.

Jack Letts, who is British but has Canadian citizenship through his father, is being held by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.

Hundreds of ISIS foreign fighters, as well as ISIS wives and their children, have been captured by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Canadian government has said little about how it is assisting at least 13 Canadian detainees, who are being held in prisons and camps in northeast Syria.

But the transcript of a January 10 conversation between Letts and Global Affairs Canada shows that while officials have reached out to some of the detainees, they have also cautioned there’s not be much they can do.

“If it would be possible, would you like to come to Canada? Back to the U.K.?” the consular official asked.

“I want to live a normal life. I want to come to Canada,” Letts replied.

A Muslim convert, Letts traveled to Syria in 2014, leading the British press to dub him Jihadi Jack. But while he was in ISIS-controlled territory, he has denied being an ISIS member and his parents said there was no evidence he ever joined the terrorist group. Because the U.K. has shown no interest in assisting him and he is Canadian through his father, Ottawa has taken on the case.

Jack Letts said he was imprisoned near Qamishli, the hub of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

“Can u help me,” Letts wrote to the consular official.

He said he was imprisoned near Qamlishi, the hub of the Kurdish-controlled region of Syria known as Rojava. He said he had been there 10 months.

“We have limited capacity to provide consular service in Syria but we will try to help you,” the official responded.

The consular official asked Letts whether he had been charged, how he spent his days, what he ate, when he last saw a doctor, whether he was taking medications and had access to the Internet.

“Are they going to kill us,” Letts wanted to know.

“As I said, we have no access in Syria at the moment, but are working on your case.”

Letts asked the official if he intended to get him to Canada.

“I promise not to blow anyone up with fertaliser [sic] or however they do it,” Letts wrote, adding “that was a joke.”

“We have the intention to help you,” the official wrote.

“Obviously I’m not going to blow anyone up.”

“Canada is an option,” said the official.

Letts then said he was “going insane” and had tried to hang himself. He said he was experiencing kidney problems but had not seen a doctor in seven months.

“I made a mistake coming here, I know that. If you want to put me in prison, I understand that I do not mind,” Letts told the official.

“I have made mistakes, probably prison is good for me. But just not here. The situation here is terrible.”

“Tell my mum I am sorry. Tell my dad I am sorry. Tell them if I ever get out of this place I am going to try and be a better person.”

Towards the end of the exchange, the official assured Letts the government was working on his case, but within limits.

“We don’t have people in Syria and it is a complex environment so I can’t give you definitive timelines, but we are working on your case.”

Global News revealed last week that high-profile Canadian ISIS member Muhammad Ali had been captured by Kurdish forces. His wife, former Vancouver resident Rida Jabbar, and their two kids were also detained, along with women from Toronto and Montreal who married ISIS foreign fighters, and their five children.

Letts and a Montreal man are also being held.

A Kurdish official told Global News there had been “dialogue” with Canada over the detainees, including a meeting in Iraq, but that “suddenly the Canadian government stopped this process and we don’t know why.”

Asked to comment on the transcript, Global Affairs Canada said it was aware that Canadians were detained in Syria but its “ability to provide consular assistance in any part of Syria is extremely limited.”

In a podcast, national security law expert Craig Forcese said that because the Canadians were detained abroad, the government could not facilitate their return to Canada.

The best they could do was negotiate the conditions of their detention, he said, adding the matter was complicated because the Canadians were held by insurgents rather than a state.

But even engaging with their captors diplomatically could cause problems for Canada, he said. Turkey views the Kurdish forces as part of the PKK terrorist group. “So it’s a very difficult consular dance.”

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole said the government’s primary focus should be public safety.

“I’m very, very reluctant to repatriate known ISIS fighters, unless they’re charged and imprisoned in conjunction with their return,” he said.

He also said he supported the revocation of citizenship for terrorism and treason.

“You know, unfortunately these people made very bad decisions and demonstrated that they were a risk to the public and that’s how they should be treated.”

But NDP public safety critic Matthew Dubé said that while public safety is paramount, Canada was obliged to take responsibility for its citizens.

“As much as we may loathe what these people stand for and what they’re doing in some cases, I think that putting them into prisons here and having them go through the Canadian justice system is obviously at the core of a society that’s rules-based and respects the rule of law,” he said.

“Again, it’s not to condone in any way these atrocities. Quite the contrary. I believe that if we truly believe that this is wrong then we should be making sure that they are seeing justice through the Canadian system.”

Dubé also said Ottawa should bring back Canadian wives of ISIS fighters and their children. “It doesn’t sound like that’s the case at the moment, but I would hope that they would make every effort to bring the women and children back.”

Source:‘Would you like to come to Canada?’ What officials are doing for Canadians held in Syria over ISIS allegations

FM Klimkin proposes to discuss dual citizenship in Ukraine

Will be interesting to see how this debate progresses:

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says there is a need for a debate on dual citizenship in Ukraine.

“We all understand that tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine have passports of neighboring countries. And this is not only ethnic Hungarians. I think we should hold a discussion about the state’s attitude to this large group of our compatriots,” he wrote in an article for European Pravda.

Klimkin believes it is possible to find a solution that will not harm people with dual citizenship, but, on the contrary, free them from the need to conceal it.

“The discussion is not about worsening their situation or branding them as traitors, but rather reasonably resolving the legal limbo, and not only that,” the minister said.

He stresses the problem of dual Ukrainian-Russian citizenship should be considered separately in the context of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“I personally consider it fundamentally unacceptable. As a matter of fact, the decision on single citizenship in Ukraine was once made, first of all, as a fuse against Russia’s possible influence on the newly declared independent Ukraine. Today, when Moscow is waging armed aggression against us, such motivation is leveled: if Ukraine wants to consider the possibility of limited application of dual citizenship, this should not concern Russia in principle,” Klimkin said.

Source: Klimkin proposes to discuss dual citizenship in Ukraine

To increase immigration, allow dual citizenship

Correlation, not causation. Many immigrants to Canada come from countries which do not formally permit dual citizenship but largely turn a blind eye:

Countries that allow dual citizenship experience higher migration flow. They attract more migrants to their countries, and see more citizens emigrating elsewhere.

To discover this, researchers from the University of California, Irvine examined the migration patterns in 184 countries where migrants left and 24 countries where they arrived between 1981 and 2006. The paper that resulted from their work was published in the journal Comparative Political Studies in 2016.

They found that migrants are more likely to move to countries that share a common official language, share colonial roots, are closer to their home country, have higher pay, lower unemployment, and a larger foreign population. Controlling all these factors, the ability to carry multiple citizenships correlates with higher migration flow for both origin and destination countries.

When one or both countries forbid multiple citizenships, the results change considerably.

People are most likely to emigrate, when both the origin country and the destination country allow them to take more than one citizenship. They are least likely to leave their home country when both forbid it. Moving to a multiple-citizenship-forbidding country is more likely than away from one, according to the research.

For the country looking to attract talented workers, allowing dual citizenship is clearly a place to start.

Source: To increase immigration, allow dual citizenship

Australia: State politicians not safe as dual citizenship crisis rolls on

Possible expansion of the Australian dual citizenship problems for elected state-level politicians, but narrower in its application:

It has been widely assumed that any dual citizenship problems are confined to the federal parliament. But that may need a rethink.

Over the past year, 15 federal parliamentarians have left the Australian parliament because of dual citizenship.

Under Section 44(i) of the Australian Constitution – which has been given a strict interpretation by the High Court of Australia in recent cases – a person is not eligible to nominate for, or be elected to, the federal parliament if they are a dual citizen. The removal of such a large number of parliamentarians in such a short space of time is unprecedented.

Throughout this controversy, it has been assumed that any dual citizenship problems are confined to the federal parliament. Certainly, it is widely acknowledged that state constitutions do not contain the same general prohibition of dual citizenship and that dual citizens are at least initially eligible to be elected to state parliaments.

Unfortunately, the analysis generally stops at this point. There has been little consideration given to the important follow-up question of whether there are any other disqualification provisions that might affect any dual citizens sitting in our state parliaments.

An examination of state constitutions (and relevant electoral laws) reveals that while a dual citizen is eligible to be elected, this citizenship status may subsequently put them at risk of disqualification if they engage with that foreign citizenship while serving in the parliament.

In particular, in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, the state constitutions, or relevant electoral laws, provide that a parliamentary seat will become vacant if a member commits any act that acknowledges allegiance to any foreign power.

This disqualification does not apply in Victoria, the ACT or the Northern Territory, and in South Australia it has been expressly limited to make it clear it doesn’t apply in particular circumstances.

Clearly, these state provisions are substantially different from the dual citizenship prohibition at the national level. A dual citizen is eligible to be elected as a state member of parliament, and will only be disqualified if there is a positive action taken by them that acknowledges a foreign allegiance.

And that’s the pertinent question: what exactly constitutes an “acknowledgement of allegiance”?

A plain reading of this phrase would seem to suggest that any positive act that seeks to exercise any right arising from citizenship would be disqualifying. In essence, a person who seeks to rely on their foreign citizenship in some way (however trivial) is making an acknowledgement of that foreign allegiance. Some obvious examples would be travelling on a foreign passport, or even renewing a foreign passport.

If a state MP from NSW, Queensland, WA or Tasmania did either of these things, they would appear to be in breach of the state constitutional requirements, resulting in their disqualification from parliament.

This issue has been flagged as a potential problem in the past. For example, leading constitutional expert Professor Gerard Carney suggested almost 20 years ago that if an elected state member subsequently acts to affirm the foreign citizenship, such as by renewing or applying for a foreign passport, disqualification will be incurred.

The question was also considered by the NSW Parliamentary Joint Committee on the ICAC, which recommended repealing this grounds for disqualification back in 1998.

This broad interpretation is further reinforced by the fact that South Australia saw a need back in 1994 to insert a qualifying provision into its state constitution to provide that members would not be disqualified simply because they acquired or used a foreign passport.

The fact that such a qualification was thought necessary highlights that acquiring or using a foreign passport will ordinarily fall into the category of being an “acknowledgement of allegiance”.

It is important to note these issues have never been tested before the state courts, and there is no particular evidence to suggest any current state parliamentarians are in breach.

It is also worth noting that some jurisdictions – notably Queensland – have provisions that allow parliament to resolve to disregard a “trivial” disqualifying event.

Source: State politicians not safe as dual citizenship crisis rolls on

Bill on citizenship to be revised on issue of Ukrainian collaborators in occupied territories – Poroshenko

Not sure that this completely resolves the issues and concerns of expatriate Ukrainians with dual citizens or those inside Ukraine (see earlier Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost):

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a meeting with Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov and Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Ilmi Umerov assured them that the draft law on citizenship will be finalized in the issue of collaborators in the occupied territories.

“There were provisions in this draft law [presidential bill (No.8297) on amending the law of Ukraine on citizenship regarding the improvement of certain provisions] that, on the one hand, protect not only the Crimean Tatars, but also Ukrainians who found themselves in the occupied territory and were forced to accept Russian citizenship under pressure. But there is a small part of the citizens who volunteered to become collaborators – started working in the police, Federal Security Service, illegal authorities,” the presidential press service reported on the results of his meeting with the leaders of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people in Kyiv on Friday.

“I heard your appeal. We have now discussed this and I decided to revoke the bill on citizenship,” he said.

According to him, the “provision on collaborators” will be deleted and the bill will be finalized jointly.

“And we will divide these two things. The first thing is the Law on Citizenship and the Protection of Ukrainian Citizenship. On the other hand, the Law on Collaborators regulates the issues concerning this, albeit small, category of citizens. They must receive an absolutely fair response from Ukrainian legislation, Ukrainian Law and state,” the president emphasized.

Chubarov thanked the president for supporting this initiative to remove the provisions that apply directly to the occupied territories. “Our goal is very clear and everyone knows it – those who violated the Laws of Ukraine and started cooperation with the occupants will be punished. And all the others who maintain dignity and remain loyal to Ukraine – we will all live together in our Crimea,” he said.

According to him, the vast majority of Ukrainian citizens who live in the occupied Crimea are waiting for Ukraine, they expect the restoration of state sovereignty and control over Crimea.

As reported, on April 19, 2018, the Ukrainian president tabled in parliament a draft law (No. 8297) introducing amendments to the law of Ukraine on citizenship.

Among other things, it foresees that the acquisition of citizenship of the Russian Federation as a result of unlawful and unfair acts in the territories temporarily occupied by the Russian administration and the self-proclaimed authorities controlled by Russia is not considered a voluntary acquisition of foreign nationality and therefore is not a reason for the loss of Ukrainian citizenship.

However, the grounds for the loss of citizenship of Ukraine will be the implementation of the electoral or other rights granted by foreign citizenship, or the performance of the obligations envisaged by foreign citizenship, which can be confirmed by the data of public registers of state authorities, local governments of foreign states and information on official websites and in official publications.

The basis for the loss of Ukrainian nationality will also be the use of a passport of another country when crossing the border of Ukraine, which is recorded by an official of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine or another state body.

At the same time, the draft law proposes clarifying the procedure for obtaining Ukrainian citizenship and abandoning foreign citizenship.

Although, according to the website of the Ukrainian parliament, the bill was withdrawn on May 16, 2018.

Source: Bill on citizenship to be revised on issue of Ukrainian collaborators in occupied territories – Poroshenko

Australia: Citizenship crisis: coalition resists referendum in favour of new rules for candidates

Understandable reluctance giving risks and divisiveness of referendums (and not clear whether winnable) with the unfortunate result that Australian parliaments will continue to be significantly under-representative:

Candidates will have to disclose the birthplace and citizenship of themselves, their parents and grandparents before the next federal election under changes announced by the government to try to put an end to Australia’s citizenship crisis without a referendum.

On Thursday an inquiry examining section 44 of the constitution warned that, without a referendum, elections could be subject to “manipulation” by challenges against candidates with dual citizenship or other disqualifications.

Despite the electoral matters committee’s bipartisan push for a referendum to reform or repeal section 44 of the constitution, the special minister of state, Mathias Cormann, confirmed that the government was “not inclined to pursue a referendum”.

Instead the government will pursue steps “to minimise the risk of a recurrence of the eligibility issues” that have plagued the 45th parliament, in which 14 parliamentarians have resigned or been ruled ineligible since mid-2017 owing to dual citizenship.

The government set up the inquiry into section 44 by the joint standing committee on electoral matters after the high court ruled five senators and MPs ineligible in October.

In a bipartisan report released on Thursday, the committee recommended the government prepare a referendum question to either repeal all the disqualifications for standing for parliament in section 44 or to give parliament the power to set the disqualifications itself.

But the committee acknowledged a referendum “will not be positively received by Australians and the outcome … is uncertain”.

It accepted the “preconditions for a successful referendum on this issue will take time” and cannot be achieved before the “Super Saturday” byelections triggered by the high court’s ruling against Katy Gallagher or before the next federal election.

The committee suggested a series of measures to “mitigate the impact of section 44” including:

  • a requirement that all candidates reveal their family citizenship history at the time of nomination and information relevant to other disqualifications;
  • an “online self-assessment tool” to be developed by the Australian Electoral Commission;
  • improved education for minor parties and independents; and
  • exploring expedited citizenship renunciation processes with foreign governments.

At a press conference in Brisbane Malcolm Turnbull said the government did not have time to deal with a referendum before the next election and the Australian people “expect us to deal with the constitution as it stands”.

Even in the longer term, the prime minister said he “very much doubted” whether Australians would support a change to the constitution.

Cormann said the government would instead “move to improve the existing candidate nomination process for elections”.

In November the government introduced a new citizenship register requiring current and future parliamentarians to reveal their birthplace, that of their parents and grandparents and to produce documents showing renunciation of foreign citizenship 21 days after their election.

Cormann announced those requirements would now be applied to “candidates for election to the Australian parliament” who will provide the information to the AEC “as well as information on other potential disqualifications under section 44 of the constitution”. This is likely to require disclosure of criminal convictions, bankruptcies and interests in contracts with the government.

The committee warned that section 44 opened the electoral system to “the risk of manipulation, where a successful candidate could have their election challenged on the basis of preference flows from an ineligible candidate”.

“This raises the possibility of deliberate manipulation of disqualification rules to overturn an otherwise valid election,” it said.

The committee noted that when all the disqualifications in section 44 are considered – including foreign citizenship, employment in the public service and an “indirect pecuniary interest in an agreement with the commonwealth” – more than 50% of the Australian population is ineligible to run for parliament.

The report argued that the ban on dual citizens caused numerous problems, including uncertainty for parliamentarians who were unsure of the citizenship of their parents or grandparents, and the possibility that foreign governments could manipulate eligibility by not processing renunciation in a timely manner.

“Challenges to sitting members will continue into future elections; disrupting electoral outcomes, causing uncertainty and confusion, and having the potential to undermine the authority of both federal parliament and the constitution itself.”

Despite those dire warnings the chair of the electoral committee, the Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, told Guardian Australia she was “not [so] pessimistic” to suggest it will take further disqualifications to convince Australians of the need for a referendum.

“We need to start a conversation about whether the rules are the right ones for today’s society,” she said.

Reynolds cited the fact that public servants have to give up their jobs to run for parliament, and the citizenship requirements favour “Australians with a long-term unbroken family history” and those who can afford legal advice to remove disqualifications.

via Citizenship crisis: coalition resists referendum in favour of new rules for candidates | Australia news | The Guardian

Further article: Will we actually vote on changing the constitution after the dual citizenship fiasco? – Politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost

Will be interesting to see whether the Ukrainian Canadian community takes a more high profile on this this proposed legislation (welcome comment by any Ukrainian Canadian readers).

StatsCan data suggests that less than 10 percent of Ukrainian immigrants (first generation) have dual citizenship:

The Verkhovna Rada may soon consider amendments that could deprive many Ukrainians living abroad of their citizenship.

President Petro Poroshenko submitted the amendments, called bill No. 8297, on April 19, identifying them as urgent. The amendments will be considered by a Rada committee on May 16 and may be considered by the Rada as early as on May 17.

The legislation was previously promoted by the authorities as being aimed at depriving of their citizenship those who voted in Russia’s fake referendum to annex Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014.

In fact, it will not apply to those people, but may apply to almost any Ukrainian with dual nationality abroad. The wording of the bill is so vague that its effect may be devastating.

The bill says that “(…) if an adult citizen of Ukraine has used an electoral or other right granted to him by foreign citizenship or has fulfilled the duties that foreign citizenship puts on him, which can be confirmed by the data of the public registers of state bodies or local governments of foreign states, information published on official websites, in official publications by state bodies or bodies of local government and/or documents provided by such bodies, or if he or she (an adult citizen of Ukraine) received or used in Ukraine or during the departure/entry to Ukraine a passport of a foreign state, which has been recorded by an official employee of the State Border Guard of Ukraine or another the state body of Ukraine.”

Bill No. 8297 states that “the acquisition of Russian citizenship due to unlawful … actions on the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the occupation administration of the Russian Federation” will not be classified as the voluntary acquisition of citizenship. Therefore, participation in the sham Russian elections in Kremlin-annexed Crimea it will not be considered as grounds for stripping a person of Ukrainian citizenship.

This is not the first attempt by Poroshenko to deprive of millions of Ukrainian people of Ukrainian citizenship. In March 2017, bill 6175 was submitted by the president to the Verkhovna Rada, but thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian diaspora and Ukrainian expats, the bill was blocked.

Moreover, Poroshenko has used citizenship legislation as a tool to get rid of his political opponents. Last year, he stripped his vehement critic Mikheil Saakashvili and his ally Sasha Borovik of their Ukrainian citizenship.

The cancellation of their citizenship violated Ukrainian and international law and due process and was politically motivated, according to both Saakashvili’s lawyers and independent ones.

Despite the catastrophic demographic situation in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government continues its attempts to deprive citizenship to a large number of Ukrainian people, without recognizing that today de facto, at least 10 percent of Ukrainians are bi- or multi- national.

In fact, the repeated attempt to pass such legislation seems even more threatening, since this repeated political mistake is interpreted by experts as a conscious desire to deprive of Ukrainian citizenship millions of Ukrainian people who temporarily live abroad, without any understanding of their role and contribution to the development of Ukraine.

Ukrainians who live abroad are the best lobbyists of Ukraine. Moreover, they are de facto the best investors, who support Ukraine financially on their shoulders, as the mythological ancient Greek titans. According to the data of the National Bank and the State Statistics Service, Ukrainians abroad transfer five times more money to their homeland than foreign investors. For example, in 2017, Ukrainian migrants transferred to Ukraine $9.3 billion. By comparison, during the same period, foreign direct investments amounted to $1.8 billion. Financial transfers from Ukrainians abroad are increasing every year ($7 billion in 2015, $7.5 billion in 2016). Thus, the recent relative stability of the national currency has been achieved thanks to the Ukrainians living and working abroad. Meanwhile, due to the fact that about 10 million Ukrainians work abroad, Ukraine has a lower level of unemployment, and their financial transfers reduce the level of poverty in the country.

A careful analysis of international practice shows that the global trend is the opposite to banning multiple citizenship. Since 1960, the global tendency has changed dramatically, and the vast majority of states do not use their laws to automatically deprive people of citizenship. International experience on the multiple citizenship phenomenon shows that 55 percent of countries allow multiple citizenship without restrictions, 19 percent of states allow it with certain limitations, and only 26 percent of countries ban multiple citizenship. These last are mostly the least developed countries of the world.

While Israel and China fight for the rights of their citizens living outside the country, and in Germany or in Canada there are special integration programs, Ukraine prefers not only to forget about foreign Ukrainians, but even to break ties with them, and revoke their Ukrainian passports. In parallel, the Ukrainian authorities do not create opportunities for high-skilled specialists to return to Ukraine, to help in reforming the country, or bring in new, modern attitudes and approaches, or innovations.

“Ukraine needs powerful government managers, especially with experience from successful projects abroad. Therefore, the adoption of these amendments is inadmissible. These amendments will push Ukrainians to renounce to their Ukrainian nationality and will make it impossible to attract the best specialists to state bodies. In fact, this could be qualified as political sabotage against Ukraine,” said Vadym Tryukhan, a Ukrainian political analyst and ex-diplomat.

The most-used political thesis to defend this rigid approach to citizenship is that in this case Ukrainian politicians will not be able to have several passports.

“The authors of such bills seem to completely ignore the risks of loss of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens as a result of adopting these amendments,” says Igor Reshetnyak, an activist of the Ukrainian community in France and Switzerland.

“This is especially critical at time when the population of Ukraine is steadily decreasing. Of course, there are different agents of the Kremlin in Ukraine, but their damage is not in holding several passports, but in their illegal actions. For these actions they should be punished, and in this case the possession of Ukrainian citizenship by these agents only makes it easier to bring them to justice.”

Given that a presidential election will be held next year, the bill looks like an attempt to diminish the electoral rights of Ukrainians living abroad, who may have a different (and sometimes more critical) vision of the actions of the present government.

“As always, the authorities ignore the interests of millions of Ukrainians who live abroad,” says Tamila Karpyk, a representative of Open World Learning in Toronto and an activist of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.

“Rather than anticipating the restoration of electoral constitutional rights and ensuring the full representation of the interests of Ukrainians abroad in the Ukrainian parliament (today there are no deputies from a foreign constituency in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), the authorities make numerous attempts to curtail their electoral rights.”

Some lawmakers are aware of the need for massive public discussion and a professional approach to public policy, but their voice is poorly heard in the media.

“Citizenship can be neither a free gift nor a tsar’s ‘punishment,’” says Oksana Syroyid, a lawmaker from the Samopomich party and deputy speaker of the Rada.

“In a globalized world, in a context of ‘non-visa regimes’ and negative labor migration, the policy on citizenship needs changes. Citizenship should be seen not only as an identity and privilege of ‘vassalage.’ In any case, changing citizenship policy requires more public consensus rather than arbitrary decisions.”

During the times of Stalin, the Ukrainian intelligentsia and dissidents were eradicated by the Soviet NKVD, and now Poroshenko is making a second attempt to revoke the Ukrainian passports of those Ukrainians who have succeeded in the global world. Will this second attempt be successful?

via Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost

Australia’s Dual-Citizenship Contagion Claims 5 More Politicians

The latest numbers. Unfortunately, a constitutional change is unlikely given the high barrier (a referendum) needed:

Four Australian members of Parliament resigned Wednesday after revealing they held dual citizenship, bringing the number of lawmakers forced to vacate their seats because of split national loyalties to 15 in less than a year.

The resignations came hours after the High Court ruled on Wednesday that another politician, Senator Katy Gallagher, a member of the Labor Party, was ineligible to remain in Parliament because she had not renounced her British citizenship before her election.

That decision prompted three other Labor members of Parliament — Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb — and a member of the Centre Alliance, Rebekha Sharkie, to resign.

Section 44 of Australia’s Constitution bars anyone holding dual citizenship from running for office. Despite the clarity of the law, more than a dozen lawmakers, including a former deputy prime minister, have been found to hold dual citizenship in the past year, prompting their resignations.

The discoveries of lawmakers — sometimes unknowingly — holding dual citizenship has been likened to a virus spreading through Parliament, picking off members month after month. The contagion has affected politicians across the political spectrum, including two deputy Green party leaders and Barnaby Joyce, the former deputy prime minister and National Party leader. (Mr. Joyce would win back his seat only to later resign his post after a sex scandal.)

Senator Gallagher had argued that she should remain in Parliament because she took steps to renounce her British citizenship before the election but was delayed because of paperwork. The court rejected that argument.

The four politicians who resigned said they would contest their seats in by-elections that are expected to be held next month. The court ordered a special recount to fill Ms. Gallagher’s seat.

Among the previous resignations were dual citizens of Italy, Canada and New Zealand. Most of the politicians laid low by the scandal were dual citizens of Britain.

In the wake of the latest resignations, Larissa Waters, former Greens deputy leader and one of the first ousted in the crisis, took to Twitter.

“Go home section 44, you’re drunk,” she wrote.

ICYMI: Australia: Chair of Section 44 inquiry says dual-citizenship rules should change

Given the risks of holding a referendum on this issue, unlikely that this requirement will be changed or narrowed:

The Liberal chair of a cross-party committee on electoral reform has revealed her personal view that Section 44 of the Constitution, which forbids dual citizens being elected to parliament, should be changed in a referendum.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds chairs the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which launched an inquiry into Section 44 last year under instructions from the prime minister.

The 10-member committee’s final report was expected last month and is now overdue.

But Senator Reynolds has now revealed her own views in comments to Fairfax Media.

“While I will not pre-empt the findings of the committee, it is my personal belief that the cleanest way to resolve this problem is to remove sections of 44,” she said.

“Section 44 has unintentionally created two classes of Australian citizenship.

“The only way to do that would be through a referendum. Ultimately the issue of dual citizenship for MPs must be one for Australians to decide, not a parliamentary committee.”

Section 44 of the Constitution contains a number of smaller sections that disqualify certain people from being elected, including those who are bankrupt or who hold an “office of profit under the Crown”.

But the best-known is Section 44(i), the dual-citizenship rule, which sensationally ended the political careers of eight senators in the last 12 months.

It also triggered by-elections that threatened the Turnbull Government’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, after the High Court ruled former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Liberal MP John Alexander were invalidly elected. Both men won their seats back.

Senator Reynolds, herself a veteran, reportedly told Fairfax Media it was inconsistent that dual citizens could serve in the Army but not sit in the parliament.

“Not only is this out of step with other areas of contemporary Australian life, it’s also out of step with most western democracies which allow dual citizens to serve in Parliament, including the UK, US and Canada.”

In August last year, a Guardian Essential poll found only 41 percent of Australians supported allowing dual citizens to sit, compared with 40 percent saying “no” and 18 percent saying they did not know.

Other Coalition MPs like Craig Laundy have publically suggested a referendum.

But prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said a referendum would likely fail.

“I think it’s questionable whether Australians would welcome dual citizens sitting in their Parliament,” Mr Turnbull said last year.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the dual-citizenship rule should not have been included in the Constitution “in the first place”, speaking with reporters in Sydney.

But he said it was a more urgent priority to hold a referendum on replacing the British monarch as Australia’s head of state or on Indigenous recognition in the Constitution.

via Chair of Section 44 inquiry says dual-citizenship rules should change

Father of British-Canadian accused of joining ISIS hopes to plead son’s case in Canada next week

An example of how inheriting Canadian citizenship (first generation) leads to consular demands even in cases where a person has never lived in Canada:

John Letts, the father of a young British-Canadian man accused of belonging to ISIS and being held in a Kurdish jail in Syria, is hoping to lobby the Canadian government in person next week for help securing his son’s transfer to Canada.

Letts and his wife, Sally Lane, insist the allegations against their son Jack are false but say he has the right to answer any charges against him in a British or Canadian court.

Letts say he would have travelled to Canada long before now had he been allowed.

He and Lane have been subject to a travel ban since being charged in 2016 under British terrorism legislation for trying to send money to their son, who they say was desperate to leave ISIS-held territory in the Middle East.

On Thursday, a British judge eased the restrictions on Letts, giving him permission to travel abroad with the court’s prior approval.

“We were just given the ruling this morning, so we haven’t had really much of a chance to digest it,” Letts said in an interview after the hearing.

“But I’m hoping that next week, I’d like to think I could be in Canada having meetings with appropriate people.”

Family holds dual citizenship

Jack Letts was 18 when he left his family’s home in Oxford to travel to Jordan and then Syria in 2014.

Last spring, Kurdish militias controlling parts of northern Syria stopped him as he was trying to leave ISIS-held territory and jailed him in the town of Qamishli.

Canadian consular officials spoke with him by telephone in January. In audio recordings of the call obtained by CBC News, Jack Letts said he had tried to commit suicide and asked to be sent to Canada.

The British media have dubbed him Jihadi Jack, a label his parents say has made their ordeal all the more difficult. Public opinion in the U.K. tends not to favour allowing people suspected of fighting for ISIS to return.

The parents turned to Ottawa for help, they say, in the face of an indifferent response from the British Foreign Office. Letts, Lane and their two children, including Jack, hold dual citizenship. When asked about the Letts case in the past, U.K. authorities have said they cannot help British citizens in places where the U.K. has no consular support.

Letts, seen in Facebook photo at age 20, went to Syria and Iraq in 2014, and is now in a Kurdish jail in northern Syria. He was dubbed Jihadi Jack in British media, a label his parents feel has hurt his case. (Facebook)

Lane is optimistic that Canada will help see her son extricated from the Kurdish prison.

“I think we’re in a different time frame now,” she said. “Jack’s in detention. There’s an opportunity to get him out of detention, and those questions about what he was doing can now be answered in a trial.”

Parents could face 14 years in prison

Lane says she has been focused on how to help her son rather than on the charges laid against her in Britain, with a trial set to begin in September.

But if found guilty, she and her husband could face up to 14 years in prison, an outcome supporters say would be ludicrous for parents trying to help a child.

John Letts says living under bail conditions and being blackballed by some in the community has been an ordeal, harming the couple’s ability to make a living.

“We’ve been living like this for three and a half years, waiting under this sword of Damocles and under this view that we’re somehow terrorists and aiding and abetting ISIS, and it just makes you very angry and upset. And here’s a breakthrough.”

In his decision Thursday at the Central Criminal Court in London, known as the Old Bailey, Judge Nicholas Hilliard did not lift the travel ban on Lane.

Source: Father of British-Canadian accused of joining ISIS hopes to plead son’s case in Canada next week