British Muslims’ #citizenship reduced to ‘second-class’ status, says thinktank

Similar to arguments against the Conservative government’s C-24 citizenship revocation provisions (repealed by the Liberal government), but the absence of due process in the UK example is particularly egregious:

British Muslims have had their citizenship reduced to “second-class” status as a result of recently extended powers to strip people of their nationality, a thinktank has claimed.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says the targets of such powers are almost exclusively Muslims, mostly of south Asian heritage, embedding discrimination and creating a lesser form of citizenship.

The IRR’s report was published on Sunday amid renewed controversy over the case of Shamima Begum, who was smuggled into the hands of Islamic State aged 15, and in the wake of the Nationality and Borders Act – that allowed citizenship to be stripped without notifying the subject, coming on to the statute books.

Frances Webber, IRR vice-chair and report author, wrote: “The message sent by the legislation on deprivation of citizenship since 2002 and its implementation largely against British Muslims of south Asian heritage is that, despite their passports, these people are not and can never be ‘true’ citizens, in the same way that ‘natives’ are.

“While a ‘native’ British citizen, who has access to no other citizenship, can commit the most heinous crimes without jeopardising his right to remain British, none of the estimated 6 million British citizens with access to another citizenship can feel confident in the perpetual nature of their citizenship.”

Webber said before being used against the Muslim preacher Abu Hamza in 2003, no deprivation of citizenship had been authorised for 30 years. But since then there have been at least 217, with 104 removals in 2017 after the collapse of Islamic State in Syria.

Despite government claims that powers are only used against those who pose a grave threat to national security, or who have committed abhorrent crimes, the “Citizenship: from right to privilege” report argues the effect is that certain people have a “second-class, disposable, contingent citizenship”.

Webbersaid: “These classes of citizenship were brought in to target British Muslims of south Asian and Middle Eastern heritage. Such divisions act as a constant reminder to minority ethnic citizens that they must watch their step, and reinforce racist messages about ‘undeserving’ racialised groups unworthy of being British.”

The report describes the criteria for deprivation of citizenship as “nebulous and undefined” and warns of a risk of its use for political purposes, with Webber highlighting Begum’s case as an example. It was recently alleged Begum was rtrafficked into Syria by a spy working for Canadian intelligence.

“It raises the question: was Begum’s citizenship removed to divert attention from western agencies’ prioritisation of intelligence gathering over safeguarding vulnerable trafficked girls?” said Webber.

Citing the Prevent counter-terrorism programme, which has been dogged by claims of being a cover to spy on Muslim communities, the report said citizenship-stripping is “just one aspect of measures targeting Muslim communities, in Britain and abroad, in the past two decades, which have helped to turn British Muslims in the UK into a ‘suspect community’”.

The latest change to citizen-stripping powers in the Nationality and Borders Act, heightened public awareness – and criticism – of the existing rules as well as the additions, provoking public protests, opposition from campaigners as well as some MPs and Lords.

The Home Office said the legislation did not target ethnic minorities or people of particular faiths, and that the test for deprivation was clearly set out.

A spokesperson said: “Our priority is to ensure the safety and security of the UK. Deprivation of citizenship only happens after careful consideration of the facts and in accordance with international law. It is used against those who have acquired citizenship by fraud and against the most dangerous people, such as terrorists, extremists and serious organised criminals.

“We make no apology for doing whatever is necessary to protect the UK from those who pose a threat to our security.”

Source: British Muslims’ citizenship reduced to ‘second-class’ status, says thinktank

Tatour: Israel can now strip away 48 Palestinians’ #citizenship

Of note, even if reference to broader “ethnic cleansing” is overstated:

Last week, in a precedential decision, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the state had the power to revoke the citizenship of a person convicted of offences that amounted to “breach of loyalty”, even if the person would become stateless as a result and in violation of international law.

The decision deliberated on the case of Alaa Zayoud, a Palestinian who holds Israeli citizenship. In October 2015, Zayoud rammed his car into a bus station and stabbed three Israelis. In 2017, a year after his conviction, the minister of interior notified Zayoud of his intent to revoke his citizenship, in accordance with the Citizenship Law.

The importance of this decision cannot be overstated. Its implications are grave and will be seen in the near and far future

The administrative court in Haifa approved the decision. Zayoud appealed and the case ended up in the Supreme Court.

In its decision, the Supreme Court determined that: “No constitutional defect in the arrangement that allows the revocation of the citizenship of a person who committed an act that constitutes a breach of loyalty in the State of Israel, such as: an act of terrorism; an act of treason or serious espionage; or the acquisition of citizenship or the right of permanent residency in a hostile state or in hostile territory.

“This is so, even if as a result of the revocation of his citizenship, the individual becomes stateless, provided that if the individual becomes stateless, the interior minister must grant him a status of permanent residence in Israel or another designated status.”

The importance of this decision cannot be overstated. Its implications are grave and will be seen in the near and far future. This decision has created a legal path for revoking the citizenship of the 48 Palestinians (also known as Palestinian citizens of Israel), a stepping-stone in Israel’s efforts to advance the ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Palestinians.

‘Terrorist intent’

On a practical level, the court has cleared the way for what would become the routine denaturalisation of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, making them vulnerable to deportation, something Israel has long aspired to.

The decision to substitute citizenship with a so-called permanent residency status might enable individuals to continue to have access to some social services, but it strips them from the utmost protection that citizenship is designed to grant: the right to remain at home.

Israel knows that to make 48 Palestinians vulnerable to expulsion, it has first to revoke their citizenship. The court’s decision facilitates just that.

And it is Israel and its security services who define what constitutes a “breach of loyalty”, which according to the Citizenship Law creates the grounds for revoking citizenship. At the moment, Israel defines a “breach of loyalty” based on Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Law, which permits it to classify different offences as terrorist acts.

Israel routinely applies “terrorist intent” when it comes to Palestinians. For example, in the aftermath of May 2021’s Unity Intifada, Israel arrested thousands of Palestinians and filed indictments against hundreds of protesters, with 167 of them charged with terrorist offences, based on the Counter-Terrorism Law.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision, all of them face the threat of having their citizenship revoked. Palestinians know all too well what this could potentially mean: expulsion from their homeland.

The act of revoking citizenship would leave the affected Palestinians stateless. Israel already made all Palestinians stateless in 1948 with the nullification of Palestinian citizenship under the British Mandate. Many Palestinians remain stateless. The Palestinians who remained after the Nakba (the Catastrophe) in 1948 received Israeli citizenship in the first two decades of the state.

Now Israel is threatening to make them stateless again.

Although this decision clearly violates international law, the court still determined that it was constitutional to denaturalise Palestinians, stating – falsely – that the condition of statelessness could be remedied through the extension of “permanent residence in Israel or another designated status”.

A secret plan

The experience of Jerusalemites teaches us that there is nothing permanent in “permanent residence” when it comes to Palestinians. Since 1967, Israel has regularly revoked the residence of Jerusalemites, effectively banning them permanently from their city and homes. So far, over 15,000 residencies have been revoked, as part of the ongoing effort to eliminate Palestinians from the city.

Israel has never made peace with the existence of its Palestinian citizens. It pursued plans for the mass expulsion of 48 Palestinians in its first decade. The Kafr Qasim massacre of October 1956, in which the army executed 51 Palestinians, was part of a larger secret plan, called Operation Hafarperet, to oust the Palestinian population from the Little Triangle.

In addition, in the early 1950s, Israel attempted to advance a plan for the expulsion of 10,000 Palestinians from seven villages in the Galilee, as well as other plans for the resettlement of Palestinians in Argentina and Brazil.

The quest to expel Palestinians persisted. It re-emerged in the Israeli public and political landscape during the 1980s with the rise of Meir Kahane, an American-born ultra-Orthodox nationalist rabbi, and his fascist party, Kach. Kach advocatedthe denaturalisation of Palestinian citizens and their transfer, as well as the expulsion of Palestinians in the occupied 1967 territories.

Proposed plans to reduce the number of Palestinian citizens are now an integral part of the Israeli mainstream political discourse

Since the 2000s, there have been significant efforts to make the citizenship of Palestinians more easily revocable. Proposed plans to reduce the number of Palestinian citizens are now an integral part of the Israeli mainstream political discourse and are supported by most of the Israeli public.

We have seen calls to demand that 48 Palestinians sign an oath of allegiance to the Israeli state as a Jewish state; the adoption of the Nation-State of the Jewish Peoplein 2018; and the advancement of what is known as the “population exchange” plan– the planned transfer of Little Triangle villages and their estimated 300,000 residents to the Palestinian state against the will of the Palestinians in these areas.

Instrument of sumud

In an alarming development, in recent years Israel has been revoking the citizenship of Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev in an apparent test case for a wider project of denaturalisation of Palestinian citizens. In 2010, the Ministry of Interior began a review of the citizenship status of the Bedouin.

Its report concluded that thousands of Bedouin had been erroneously registered as citizens. Subsequently, Israel denaturalised hundreds of Bedouin in the Negev, rendering them stateless.

It is no coincidence that Israel began with the Bedouin – the most vulnerable and marginalised population among 48 Palestinians.

It is no secret that Israel wants to see all Palestinians, including 48 Palestinians, vanish. Even though the latter were granted Israeli citizenship, Israel sees 48 Palestinians as guests whose presence is not only undesirable, but always conditional.

Israel sees in their citizenship a gesture, not a right – and gestures can always be undone – as articulated by Israel’s former transport minister, Bezalel Smotrich: “We are the landlords of this land. This land has belonged to the Jewish people for thousands of years. God did promise us all of the Land of Israel, a promise he kept. We’ve just been the most hospitable people in the world since the days of Abraham and so you’re still here. At least for now.”

We need to see it for what it is: Israel is working step by step to create legal paths for making denaturalisation, and thus the expulsion, of 48 Palestinians possible. For 48ers, Israeli citizenship has been an instrument of sumud or steadfast perseverance.

It guarantees – for the most part – their continued presence in their homeland. For 48 Palestinians, citizenship means survival.

Source: Israel can now strip away 48 Palestinians’ citizenship

Australia: Man suspected of joining Islamic State wins High Court challenge against government decision to strip him of his citizenship

Of note, significant curb on Ministerial discretion:

A key plank of the federal government’s foreign fighter laws has been struck down by the High Court, with the nation’s top judges ruling that suspected terrorists cannot be stripped of their citizenship by the Home Affairs Minister.

The case before the court involved Delil Alexander, who was jailed in Syria after allegedly joining Islamic State.

He claimed he could not be released from jail because he had nowhere to go, after the Australian government stripped him of his citizenship in July 2021.

Mr Alexander left Australia for Turkey, where he also holds citizenship, in 2013.

He told his family he was going to arrange a marriage and would return, but travelled to Syria where he is thought to have joined Islamic State.

The High Court noted an assessment by intelligence agency ASIO at the time found he was reported to have travelled to Syria with a group being helped by a known Australian Islamic State member.

In November 2017, Mr Alexander was arrested by a Kurdish militia and in 2019 was jailed for 15 years by a Syrian court.

He has since been pardoned by the Syrian government but has remained in jail because he cannot go back to Turkey, and Australia cancelled his citizenship.

No one, including Mr Alexander’s family and his lawyers, has heard from him since July last year.

Only judges can decide to strip citizenship if person hasn’t faced trial in Australia, court rules

The main issue in the case was whether the law allowing the Home Affairs Minister to strip him of his citizenship was valid under the Constitution.

“That sanction by the parliament may be imposed only upon satisfaction of the minister that Mr Alexander engaged in conduct that is so reprehensible as to be deserving of the dire consequence of deprivation of citizenship and the rights, privileges, immunities and duties associated with it,” the lead judgement in the decision said.

“The power to determine the facts which enliven the power to impose such a punishment is one which, in accordance with [Chapter 3] of the Constitution, is exercisable exclusively by a court that is a part of the federal judicature.”

Effectively the High Court ruled that while the government of the day could pass laws relating to citizenship, the consequence of stripping someone’s legislation without them facing trial on Australian soil was so serious it should only be handled by a judge.

Six of the seven justices agreed, with only Justice Simon Steward dissenting.

The new federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said they were still assessing the impact of the ruling.

But the pair played down the significance it may have for other foreign fighters who may pose a risk to Australia if they returned, arguing other measures, including Temporary Exclusion Orders, could prohibit people from returning to Australia for up to two years.

Government sources have told the ABC there are only two people who have had their Australian citizenship cancelled under the specific part of the Citizenship Act, which has now been struck down.

Mr Alexander, and the other individual, are both in jail.

It does not affect people such as Abdul Nacer Benbrika, who had his citizenship cancelled after being convicted of terrorism offences by an Australian court.

Mr Alexander’s lawyer disputes he had been involved with Islamic State

Mr Alexander’s lawyer, Osman Samin, said his client should never have had his citizenship stripped by the government and disputed the assessment by intelligence agencies that Mr Alexander had been involved with Islamic State.

He argued the evidence Syrian authorities relied upon to initially convict him was deeply flawed.

“We potentially have a person who was arrested in a part of Syria, which is not a declared area,” he told the ABC.

“Other than these purported admissions made by Mr Alexander under extreme torture, there is no other evidence that suggests he in any way participated in any terrorism-type conduct.

Mr Samin said there could have been far-reaching consequences if the legislation had not been struck out by the High Court.

“The concept in the legislation was that citizenship may be repudiated by disloyal conduct,” he said.

“Now, importantly, what constitutes disloyal conduct amounting to repudiation can be defined by parliament — so, therefore, while the laws were initially limited predominantly to terrorism-type conduct, if the law was deemed valid there is really no limitation on what the government in future could define as ‘disloyal conduct’.

Mr Samin said Mr Alexander’s sister, who was running the case on his behalf, was “extraordinarily relieved” but “equally anxious” about the circumstances her brother found himself in, languishing in a jail in Damascus.

“There are so many stories of foreign prisoners being killed in this particular prison that, of course, the family at the moment are only concerned with his welfare, and simply want to know whether he’s still alive essentially.”

Source: Man suspected of joining Islamic State wins High Court challenge against government decision to strip him of his citizenship

Israel: Shaked withdraws bill to revoke Israeli citizenship from terrorists

Of note:

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) on Sunday backtracked on her plan to pass a bill that would revoke the citizenship of Israeli citizens who commit terrorist acts. The bill Shaked has promoted is based on a bill once put forth by MKs Avi Dichter and Orit Strock.

Shaked retracted the legislation after discussions between her representatives and Justice Ministry officials, who said the bill would not hold up in the High Court of Justice.

The bill stipulated that any Israeli citizen who participates in hostile terrorist activity and receives monetary support from the Palestinian Authority will be stripped of his or her Israeli citizenship. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to prevent the PA from paying Israeli citizens who perpetrate attacks.

Shaked has vowed on several occasions over the course of her tenure as head of the Interior Ministry to pass the bill into law. Officials in her circle, however, as stated, said the Justice Ministry made it clear in recent preliminary discussions that the High Court of Justice would reject the bill as it is currently worded, and that the State Attorney has no intention of defending it once an appeal against it is submitted to the Supreme Court.

Instead of revoking citizenship, Shaked now intends to promote legislation that would revoke pension payments to Israelis who have been convicted of terrorist acts. This, even though a similar law exists and is already partially implemented. Shaked is also exploring the possibility of downgrading the citizenship status of convicted Israeli terrorists, although at this point the legislative process is awaiting a High Court ruling on the matter, which is expected within the next two months.

Strock, who is a member of the Religious Zionism Party, slammed Shaked for withdrawing the legislation, saying the “excuse of oppositionist jurists doesn’t hold water. The person who twice torpedoed the bill in the Knesset without once mentioning oppositionist jurists – can’t now hide behind the ‘jurists.’ The reason this life-saving law isn’t being brought forth is the fact that this government is only surviving right now because of the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation it is receiving from the Ra’am party and [Joint Arab List MK] Ahmad Tibi. Everyone realizes this, even the terrorists, as well as their victims. It’s sad, concerning, and disgraceful.”

Source: Shaked withdraws bill to revoke Israeli citizenship from terrorists

U.K. Immigration Bill Threatens Millions Of Ethnic Minority Britons’ #Citizenship Rights

More on the implications of the draft legislation:

A bill to dramatically reform the U.K.’s immigration system is currently under consideration in the country’s parliament. Within the bill is a clause that could cause the grave deprivation of the citizenship rights of minority-ethnic Britons.

The Nationality and Borders Bill was introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is responsible for immigration in the U.K. Commonly referred to as the ‘anti-refugee’ bill, it has generated considerable controversy among immigration lawyers, experts and activists for its sweeping changes to the immigration rules, many of which would make the process of seeking asylum in the U.K. considerably more difficult and dangerous.

Less well known than the asylum part of the bill, however, is a clause that would give the Home Office greater powers to strip Britons of their citizenship, without warning or notice. The Home Office does already have the power to remove citizenship, for a variety of reasons, and has done so several hundred times in the last few decades.

Perhaps most well known of these are the cases of U.K.-born Shamima Begum and Jack Letts. Both were stripped of their British citizenship after travelling to Syria, allegedly to join ISIS. British law, as well as multiple international human rights conventions, prohibit rendering someone stateless. This was not an issue in Letts’ case, as he already possessed Canadian citizenship through his father, and therefore would not be made stateless by losing his British citizenship.

Begum’s case was more complicated, however. Born in the U.K. to Bangladeshi parents, Begum had only British citizenship. Nonetheless, the U.K. government argued she could gain Bangladeshi citizenship through her parents, despite Bangladesh’s assertion that she did not have Bangladeshi citizenship, would be denied it if she applied, and would be refused entry into the country.

In effect Begum was vulnerable to being made stateless simply because she had an identifiable minority ethnic background. This episode revealed that people born to first-, second-, or even third-generation immigrants do not enjoy the same security of citizenship as those with longer roots in the country. Such a situation in essence creates two classes of citizenship. People with ethnic minority backgrounds can be stripped of their citizenship under the auspices of maybe being eligible for citizenship elsewhere, while white ethnic Britons’ citizenship rights remain intact.

Clause 9 of the new Nationality and Borders bill aggravates this situation by making the process opaque to those who are affected by it. It would give the government the right to strip Britons of their citizenship without giving them notice. This means someone may become stateless without even knowing it, and miss the opportunity to appeal their deprivation.

There are around six million people in the U.K. with an ethnic minority background that could, should the Nationality and Borders Bill become law, be rendered stateless without their even knowing it.

“I received my British citizenship last summer, after almost 14 years of being an asylum seeker & refugee” wrote one prominent refugee advocate on Twitter. “But now due to the (Nationality and Borders Bill) I am not safe, the Home Secretary can revoke & take it away at her discretion.”

A plethora of legal experts, NGOs, activists and campaign groups have urged the government to drop Clause 9. They argue that without notification or knowledge that they need to appeal a citizenship deprivation, millions of ethnic minority Britons could be made stateless under the spurious claim that they may be eligible for another citizenship elsewhere.

“(Clause 9) is a very damaging piece of legislation which I hope, as the bill goes through its various stages, will be eliminated” said Alf Dubs, a member of the U.K.’s House of Lords and former child refugee while speaking with IMIX. “We cannot allow people to be made stateless. Surely citizenship is our right and not a privilege, and that’s something we have to defend very firmly.”

An official petition on the government website to remove the clause received over 300,000 signatures, well past the threshold where the government is obliged to respond. The response, however, was steadfast.

“This clause is (…) necessary to avoid the situation where we could never deprive a person of their British citizenship just because it is not practicable, or not possible, to communicate with them” reads the Home Office reply. “Preserving the ability to make decisions in this way is vitally important to preserve the integrity of the U.K. immigration system and to protect the security of the U.K. from those who would wish to do us harm.”

The Home Office asserts Clause 9 will not affect a person’s right to appeal their citizenship deprivation. There is, however, a contradiction inherent in that statement, neatly summed up by Dan Sohege, a specialist in international refugee law:

“How exactly can someone appeal the removal of their citizenship if they don’t know that their citizenship has been removed?”

Source: U.K. Immigration Bill Threatens Millions Of Ethnic Minority Britons’ Citizenship Rights

LILLEY: Jihadi Jack’s parents ask Canada to bring the Brit here

Classic example of off-shoring citizenship revocation. One of the examples against the previous Conservative government’s C-24, ironically that Lilley supported at the time if memory serves me correct:

The parents of British-born terrorist Jihadi Jack are seeking the help of politicians in this country to get him sprung from a Syrian prison to live a life of freedom in Canada.

Emails obtained exclusively by the Toronto Sun show that John and Sally Letts have approached MPs and senators asking for meetings to assist their son Jack.

Nikita Bernardi, a public relations consultant working on behalf of the family, makes an empathetic pitch for a man who has admitted to being a member of ISIS and willing to detonate a suicide bomb.

“Jack, who is 23, has been held without charge, and therefore arbitrarily and illegally, since 2017 by the Kurdish forces in overcrowded and unsanitary prison conditions,” Bernardi wrote last week.

Jack Letts was born in Britain in 1995, and beyond some trips to Canada to visit relatives, has never lived here. He was raised in the U.K., educated in the U.K., converted to Islam as a teen in the U.K., and went to Syria in 2014 at the age of 19 because he rejected life in Britain.

He is able to claim Canadian citizenship because his father is a Canadian who moved to Britain decades ago. His connections to this country, beyond asking for consular assistance, are negligible at best, but since the British government stripped him of his citizenship there in 2019, Letts may only be recognized as a Canadian now.

That doesn’t mean we should take him or lift a finger to help him, despite claims by Bernardi that Letts is owed, “assistance and protection as is necessary.”

“Unfortunately, the Canadian government continues to take no action towards repatriating Jack,” Bernardi wrote.

You can’t repatriate someone who has never lived here.

He went to fight in Syria, something he and his family have denied for several years. But a 2019 interview with the BBC shows Letts discussing his work with ISIS and desire to be a suicide bomber — if needed — in battle.

“I used to want to at one point, believe it or not,” Letts told the BBC. “Not a vest. I wanted to do it in a car. I said if there’s a chance, I will do it.”

In 2019, when the Brits pulled citizenship from Letts, then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the government was disappointed with the British government’s “unilateral action to offload their responsibilities.”

Asked for comment Monday, Marco Mendicino, the current public safety minister, declined to comment on any specific case, but a spokesperson said criminal charges and prosecution could be in the future of any extremist traveller who comes to Canada.

“It is a Criminal Code offence to travel abroad to engage in terrorist activity. If an extremist traveller is seeking to enter Canada, federal departments work together to tailor an approach to address the threat that the individual may pose,” said spokesperson Craig MacBride.

He added that the government could use tools, including peace bonds, the no-fly list, and revocation of passports in dealing with such travellers.

The family has filed complaints against both the British and Canadian governments and with the United Nations. Bernardi wrote that Canada can be held responsible for anything that happens to Jack while he is in a Kurdish prison.

Did the Canadian government send him to Syria to fight with one of the most blood-thirsty groups the world has even seen? No, they did not — he did that on his own.

There are Canadians, actual Canadians born here or who have lived here at least, held in foreign prisons for various crimes. We don’t get them all back, and we don’t have to try.

If Letts gets out of that Kurdish prison, he is Britain’s problem, not ours.

Source: LILLEY: Jihadi Jack’s parents ask Canada to bring the Brit here

Asma al-Assad risks loss of British citizenship as she faces possible terror charges

While I don’t support revocation of citizenship in general, if the UK continues to believe in revocation, certainly Asma al-Assad is a legitimate candidate:

The British wife of Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad, is facing possible terrorism charges and the loss of her British citizenship after the Metropolitan police opened a preliminary investigation into claims she has incited, aided and encouraged war crimes by Syrian government forces.

Asma al-Assad, 45, who was born and educated in London before becoming Syria’s first lady in 2000, is being investigated in response to legal complaints alleging her speeches and public appearances in support of the Syrian army implicate her in its crimes, including the use of chemical weapons.

Ten years into Syria’s ongoing civil war, the country’s military has been accused of deliberately attacking civilians, using starvation as a weapon of war and subjecting populations to rape and sexual violence, among other breaches of international humanitarian law.

Two UN commissions have concluded the regime has repeatedly deployed chemical weapons against civilians.

The Guardian understands the Met’s war crimes unit began its inquiries into Asma al-Assad earlier this year and is determining if there is enough evidence to launch a full investigation.

Source: Asma al-Assad risks loss of British citizenship as she faces possible terror charges

Shamima Begum loses fight to restore UK citizenship after supreme court ruling

Of note:

Shamima Begum, who fled Britain as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State in Syria, has failed to restore her British citizenship after the supreme court ruled she had lost her case.

The judgment on Friday from the UK’s highest court is a critical – and controversial – test case of the UK’s policy to strip the citizenship of Britons who went to join Isis and are being detained by Syrian Kurdish groups without trial.

Lord Reed, the president of the court, said its judges had decided unanimously to rule in favour of the home secretary and against Begum on all counts before it. That means the 21-year-old will not be able to re-enter the UK to fight her case in person and will not be able to have her citizenship restored while she is being detained in Syria.

“The supreme court unanimously allows the home secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal,” Reed said.

But the court did hold out the slender hope that Begum could have a final appeal against the decision to revoke her citizenship if she were ever to be in a position where she could properly instruct lawyers. However, her detention in a Syrian camp, where she is not able to communicate with her legal team, makes that unlikely.

ICYMI: Revoking citizenship just global NIMBYism

Good commentary:

Last week, news broke that New Zealand-born woman Suhayra Aden had been detained with her surviving two children (aged five and two) near the Syrian border by Turkish authorities, who labelled her an Islamic State terrorist. She now faces the prospect of being deported to New Zealand – despite having not lived in New Zealand since childhood, and despite her family residing in Australia. Just how did this happen?

Aden left New Zealand aged six to live in Australia, and she eventually became an Australian citizen. In 2014, she reportedly travelled on her Australian passport to join the Islamic State. She was known to both Australian and New Zealand authorities, and the question of which country ought to be responsible in the event of her capture had been discussed by Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison.

However, Ardern was subsequently informed that Australia had revoked Aden’s citizenship, leading to the prospect of Aden’s deportation to New Zealand. Ardern expressed her disappointment, stating that she was “tired of having Australia export its problems”. Morrison responded that he was simply putting Australia’s national security first and that Aden’s citizenship had been automatically revoked under Australian law.

Underlying this diplomatic stoush is the phenomenon of citizenship deprivation for counterterrorism purposes, which some states have employed to bar the return of so-called foreign terrorist fighters – in essence, individuals who travel overseas to participate in an armed conflict with a terrorist group. In this case, by stripping Aden of her citizenship, Australia makes her New Zealand’s problem (since she is no longer legally entitled to return to Australia), while avoiding the international law prohibition on rendering people stateless (since she still has New Zealand citizenship).

Two provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act that were in force between December 2015 and September 2020 automatically revoked the citizenship of dual citizens aged 14 years or over if they engaged in various terrorism-related activities, served in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia, or fought for, or were in the service of, a declared terrorist organisation. These provisions operated automatically; no actual decision was needed to revoke citizenship. As soon as the person engaged in the specified conduct, the revocation occurred – as if by magic. In contrast, further action, such as the cancellation of a passport, requires official action.

From the standpoint of administrative fairness and accountability, these automatic provisions are deeply problematic. The practical obstacles to challenging the revocation of citizenship are daunting – not least because there was no ministerial decision to challenge, but also because notice that revocation had occurred could be lawfully delayed for several years. These provisions are also problematic from the standpoint of legal certainty. Since these provisions did not depend on any Australian official even being aware of the conduct triggering the loss of citizenship, it can be unclear who had actually had their citizenship revoked and when.

Take Aden’s case as an example. She reportedly travelled to Syria in 2014. But beyond her having three children to two Swedish men (both deceased), little is known about what she did there. If (as I think most likely) Aden’s citizenship was revoked because she was in the service of a declared terrorist organisation, she would have lost her Australian citizenship on or after May 6, 2016, the date the declaration that Islamic State was a terrorist organisation became effective. (As an aside, if the foregoing analysis is correct, Aden’s eldest child, reportedly aged five, would remain an Australian citizen by descent.)

The leader of the opposition, Judith Collins, suggested the Government has been outmanoeuvred by the Australian government and should have revoked Aden’s citizenship first. However, the only New Zealand legal provision that might have applied to Aden requires that she voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country and acted in a manner contrary to the interests of New Zealand. She must also have done these things “while a New Zealand citizen and while of or over the age of 18 years and of full capacity”. So in order for this provision to be applicable, Aden would have had to have acquired Australian citizenship only as an adult. Moreover, deprivation of citizenship requires a ministerial decision that is rightly subject to judicial scrutiny. Set against the Australian provisions that automatically revoke citizenship at the point in time specified conduct occurs, there was never much prospect of New Zealand winning this race to the bottom.

Dual citizenship offered Australia an easy out in Aden’s case; the law automatically revoking her citizenship conveniently obfuscated responsibility (the Australian government has, unsurprisingly, not drawn attention to its power to exempt a person from losing citizenship under these provisions). But Aden is just one instance of a broader phenomenon. The Syrian civil war attracted tens of thousands of foreigners, among them women. There are thousands of women, often with children, who find themselves in a similar situation to Aden. In the end, citizenship deprivation is a form of legalised NIMBYism with dual citizens as objects, and as such, is neither a sustainable nor internationally responsible way of addressing the problem.

Source: Revoking citizenship just global NIMBYism

New Zealand, Australia in rare row over Islamic State militant

Right call. UK did the same with Jack Letts (Jihadi Jack) when it revoked his UK citizenship given that he had Canadian citizenship by virtue of his father even if he had never lived in Canada:
 
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday accused Australia of shirking its responsibility for a dual national arrested in Turkey over reported links with Islamic State.

In an unusually blunt message to her counterpart Scott Morrison, Ardern said Canberra was “wrong” to expect Wellington to accept the woman, who she said had strong ties to Australia.

“Any fair minded person would consider this person an Australian and that is my view too,” Ardern said in a statement. “We believe Australia has abdicated its responsibilities.”

The 26-year-old woman was reportedly arrested with her two children this week while trying to illegally enter Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, bordering war-torn Syria, and identified as a member of Isis.
Ardern said the woman had been a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen until authorities in Canberra cancelled her passport, making her Wellington’s responsibility.
 
“It is wrong that New Zealand should shoulder the responsibility for a situation involving a woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was six,” she said.

“[The woman] has resided in Australia since that time, has her family in Australia and left for Syria from Australia on her Australian passport.

“New Zealand, frankly, is tired of having Australia exporting its problems,” Ardern said. “If the shoe were on the other foot, we would take responsibility. That would be the right thing to do and I ask Australia to do the same.”

Morrison defended his government’s decision as in “Australia’s national security interests”.

“We do not want to see terrorists who fought with terrorism organisations enjoying privileges of citizenship, which I think they forfeit the second they engage as an enemy of our country,” he said during a press conference in Canberra.

But Morrison added that he would speak with Ardern further, saying: “There is still a lot more unknown about this case and where it sits and where it may go to next.”

Ardern also urged Australia to consider the welfare of the woman’s children.

“These children were born in a conflict zone through no fault of their own,” she said. “Coming to New Zealand, where they have no immediate family, would not be in their best interests. We know that young children thrive best when surrounded by people who love them.”

Ardern said her government has an obligation to its citizens regardless of the circumstances or offences committed, and was also engaging with Turkish authorities over the issue.

New Zealand has previously criticised Australia for deporting people across the Tasman Sea who have tenuous ties to the country.

Since 2014, around 3,000 New Zealanders in Australia have had their visas cancelled “on character grounds” – which does not always require a criminal conviction.

Ardern has pointed out many of those being deported have lived most of their lives in Australia and described the issue as “corrosive” to the relationship between the neighbouring nations.

The woman’s case has been known to Australian and New Zealand authorities for some time. Ardern said she told Morrison the decision to strip the woman of her citizenship was wrong.

“I never believed the right response was to simply have a race to revoke people’s citizenships … they did not act in good faith,” she said.

Source: New Zealand, Australia in rare row over Islamic State militant