Germany, New Zealand approaches to citizenship revocation for strip IS fighters – Statelessness

Both countries provide an exception for those who would be left stateless and appear to be applying that consistently unlike recent cases in the UK (Begum) and Australia (Prakash).

Starting with Germany:

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners have agreed a plan to strip some Germans who fight for the Islamic State militant group of their citizenship, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.

More than 1,000 Germans have left their country for war zones in the Middle East since 2013 and the government has been debating how to deal with them as U.S.-backed forces are poised to take the last patch of territory from Islamic State in Syria.

About a third have returned to Germany, another third are believed to have died, and the rest are believed to be still in Iraq and Syria, including some detained by Iraqi forces and U.S.-backed fighters in Syria. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, citing unnamed government sources, said three criteria must be met to allow the government to denaturalise Germans who take up arms for the Islamist group.

Such individuals must have a second citizenship, be adults and they would be stripped of their citizenship should they fight for Islamic State after the new rules go into effect.

The compromise ends a dispute over the issue between conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and SPD Justice Minister Katarina Barley.

Spokesmen for both ministers were not available to comment on the report.

U.S. President Donald Trump last month urged Britain, France and Germany to take back more than 800 captured Islamic State fighters and put them on trial.

Germany said it would take back fighters only if the suspects have consular access.

Last month Britain revoked the citizenship of a teenager who had left London when she was aged 15 to join Islamic State in Syria.

The case of Shamima Begum highlighted the security, legal and ethical dilemmas facing European governments dealing with citizens who had sworn allegiance to a group determined to destroy the West.

Source: Germany to strip IS fighters of citizenship under certain criteria – report

New Zealand:

A New Zealand man detained in Syria after joining the Islamic State militant group will not be stripped of citizenship but could face criminal charges if he returns, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

New Zealand is the latest of a number of countries, from Australia and Britain to the United States, forced to grapple with legal and security challenges in dealing with former members of a hardline group that had sworn to destroy the West.

Mark Taylor, who traveled to Syria in 2014, told Australian broadcaster ABC from a prison in the Kurdish-run north that he expected to face time in prison if he returned to New Zealand.

Taylor’s joining the group was illegal and could have legal ramifications, Ardern said, but added that her government would provide him with a travel document to return, if possible.

“We have long had plans in place in the event that a New Zealand citizen supporting ISIS in Syria were to return,” Ardern told reporters, using an alternative name for the group.

“Mr Taylor only holds New Zealand citizenship and the government has an obligation not to make people stateless.”

Ardern said officials had identified that a small number of New Zealanders had joined IS, but declined to give an exact number.

New Zealand law allows revocation of citizenship only in limited situations, Ardern said, adding that the government could not render stateless anyone who did not have dual citizenship.Officials had told Taylor he would need to travel to a country where New Zealand has a diplomatic presence, such as Turkey, to receive an emergency travel document to return, said Ardern, adding that would be difficult as he is in detention.

In an interview aired on Monday, Taylor told the ABC that he had worked as a guard for the group for five years and had been detained in its prisons a number of times, such as after he accidentally leaked location details in a tweet in 2015.

He also appeared in an IS promotional video that year, calling for attacks on ANZAC Day celebrations in Australia and New Zealand.

Taylor told ABC he had witnessed executions while with the group and was sorry.

“I don’t know if I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day it’s really something I have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said.

In February, Britain said it was revoking the citizenship of 19-year-old Shamima Begum, who had left London with two school friends to join up when she was 15, but now sought to return with her newborn son.

Source: New Zealand Islamic State recruit will not be stripped of citizenship

 

Punishment or Banishment?

A rather curious article that lumps some of the Canadian worries regarding returning ISIS fighters (including wives)  with citizenship revocation.

The Liberal government reversed the Conservative government’s change to the Citizenship Act that allowed for revocation in cases of terror or treason

The statelessness provisions in most other countries require having a second nationality in order for citizenship to be revoked which makes the process more difficult to implement (as UK is finding out with respect to Begum not having Bangladeshi citizenship  and Australia with Prakash not having Fijian citizenship).

In the Canadian case, the issue is whether or not Canada should provide normal consular services (e.g., as we do to Canadians on death row in the USA) or make efforts to facilitate their return to Canada.

The former may be difficult given where they are being held and the latter, as many have noted, raises the possibility that there may not be enough evidence to prosecute successfully in Canada.

And while all have justified sympathy for their children, no sympathy for the mothers who made a conscious decision to support ISIS and its horrors and thus have to live with the consequences.

While the mothers have the right to return to Canada, no need for special government efforts to facilitate their return:

So-called jihadi brides are in the news, accused of supporting terrorism by having travelled to ISIS territory to marry ISIS fighters in support of the caliphate. Three Western states are implicated: the UK, the US, and Canada.

UK citizen Shemima Begum left the UK four years ago, when she was 15 years old, and surfaced last month at a Syrian refugee camp, heavily pregnant. US citizen Hoda Muthana, then a college student, left the US four years ago, using her tuition money to buy a ticket to Turkey, from which she was smuggled into ISIS territory. She is now detained in refugee camp in northeastern Syria. Kimberly Gwen Polman, born in Hamilton, Ontario, is a dual Canadian–US national who converted to Islam. She became persuaded by a Syrian fighter online that her incipient nursing skills would be of great value to the caliphate. She left the US in 2015 to join the caliphate, only to attempt to escape nearly a year later. But then she was jailed (and raped) and forced to sign a document acknowledging that if she were to attempt escape again, her punishment would be death. All three women have publicly announced their desire to return home this week.

The UK government reacted swiftly, announcing its intention to remove the citizenship of Begum, thereby denying her the right to return home. Recent official statements suggest UK authorities believe she is entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship, so revoking her British citizenship will not result in statelessness. US President Donald Trump announced over the weekend that all states should be ready to repatriate (i.e., bring home) and punish their “own” foreign fighters, but then tweeted that he had directed Mike Pompeo “not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Canadian officials have been relatively quiet on their intentions. A spokesperson for Public Safety Canada statedonly that “The government is aware of some Canadian citizens currently detained in Syria. There is no legal obligation to facilitate their return.”

These cases are not identical. Begum was a child when she left the UK and is now a mother to a newborn baby boy. Muthana’s choices were exacerbated by her use of social media to celebrate and encourage violence. Polman is known to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. What they share is the right to return home to face trial and punishment in their countries of citizenship.

All states have justice systems in place so that suspected wrongdoers can be tried and punished. Democratic justice systems are those that respect due process rights: the rights to a fair trial, including adequate legal representation, which permits the relevant evidence to be adjudicated by trained judges and, where relevant, juries of their peers.

It is conventional to say that citizens must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and this convention holds even where there appears to be incontrovertible evidence of guilt. Its purpose is to allow the possibility that what looks like a slam-dunk case is murkier upon examination, to ensure that in collecting evidence all of the rights of the accused were respected, and furthermore to allow for the presentation of extenuating circumstances that can complicate what seems like a simple guilty verdict.

There is more to criminal justice in democracies, moreover, than how the accused are treated during the trial phase. The punishments must also meet democratic criteria. It is a principle of punishment in democratic states that any citizen, no matter how criminal, must be treated as someone who can re-enter the community of equals from which she was temporarily excluded by punishment. This principle is why the death penalty must be rejected. It is also why denationalization must also be rejected.

Denationalization of terrorists, the process of revoking citizenship from those suspected of terrorist activities, is gaining in popularity in democratic states, who are rushing to prove they are tough on terror. Denationalizing terrorists is good politics.

Nevertheless, denationalization is unjust and undemocratic. It permits states to abandon citizens who are entitled to their protection in dangerous locations, in principle free to commit additional crimes. The Trudeau government recognized as much when it overturned the parts of the Strengthening Citizenship Act that permitted the revocation of citizenship. Weaselly words stating that Canada is not under the obligation to facilitate the return of suspected wrongdoers reveal an unwillingness to stand by the commitment implied by Mr. Trudeau’s now famous statement, “A Canadian is a Canadian.” Canadians, even criminal Canadians, are entitled to have their rights protected by Canada.

By revoking citizenship, states punish citizens suspected of criminal activities by banishing them, in advance of conviction. They treat them as unworthy of having their rights protected, as beyond the pale, rather than as individuals who in time can learn the error of their ways. These women must be returned to their states of citizenship so that we, their fellow-citizens, can judge their actions and, if appropriate, witness their just punishments.

Source: Punish homegrown terrorists. Don’t revoke their citizenship

Sajid Javid: difficult to strip Shamima Begum of UK citizenship

An important nuance to the UK’s citizenship revocation policy – must already have another citizenship, not just (theoretically) be able to obtain one:

Sajid Javid has indicated it could prove hugely difficult to strip Shamima Begum of her UK citizenship, telling MPs such action would not normally be taken against someone without another nationality and who was born in Britain.

Answering questions before the home affairs committee, Javid refused to discuss specifically the case of the 19-year-old, who travelled from east London to Syria to join Islamic State in 2015, but wants to return with her newborn baby.

But speaking more generally about the policy of stripping citizenship from UK nationals who are deemed a danger to the country, the home secretary said this action had never been taken if it would have left someone stateless.

“If an individual only has one citizenship, then generally the power cannot be used because by definition if you took away their British citizenship they would be stateless,” Javid said in answer to a question from the former Labour MP John Woodcock.

“I certainly haven’t done that and I am not aware that one of my predecessors has done that in a case where they know an individual only has one citizenship, as that would be breaking international law as we understand it.”

Last week, it emerged that the Home Office had written to Begum’s family to inform them an order was being made under the 1981 British Nationality Act, which allows the home secretary to remove someone’s citizenship if they are “satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good”.

A 2014 amendment to the Nationality Act allows UK citizenship to be removed if there are “reasonable grounds for believing” the person would be able to become a citizen of another country.

Asked about this by Woodcock, Javid stressed this could happen only if the person involved was a naturalised UK citizen originally from another country.

Javid said: “I have not deployed the power on the basis that someone could have citizenship to a second country. I’ve always applied it on the strict advice of legal advisers in the Home Office and more broadly in the government that when the power is deployed, with respect to that individual, they already have more than one citizenship.”

This measure had never seemingly been used, he added: “I have not used that power, and to the best of my knowledge none of my predecessors have used the power that was given in 2014.”

Begum’s family has stressed she does not have Bangladeshi citizenship, while Bangladesh has also said she does not, and will not be allowed into the country.

Assuming she does not have Bangladeshi nationality, it appears hard to see how Javid could enforce the order set out in the letter, which has prompted criticism that he was seeking to exploit populist feeling without proper attention to the law.

Javid was asked by the Labour MP Kate Green whether it was “morally right to export the problem” to Bangladesh, rather than deal with Begum through UK courts.

The home secretary argued that his priority had to be to protect the UK. Asked again if he thought this was morally suspect, he added: “I’m afraid I just don’t see it like that.”

He also confirmed that Begum’s baby would be a UK national, saying that children of British-born mothers had that right. However, he added, it would be “incredibly difficult” to assist the infant, as Begum was in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

Begum left the UK along with two schoolfriends. Her case was thrust back into the spotlight last week when she declared her wish to return for the sake of her child in an interview with the Times.

Source: Sajid Javid: difficult to strip Shamima Begum of UK citizenship

Gurski: Citizenship revocation is not the answer to terrorism

From my friend Phil Gurski, sensible comments on the limits of revocation in curbing radicalization and extremism:

In light of the announcement by the UK government that it is considering revoking the citizenship of clearly unrepentant jihadi Shamima Begum, claiming that she is “eligible for that of another country” (Bangladeshi apparently although she has never been there), I thought I would reproduce what I wrote about citizenship revocation in my second book Western Foreign Fighters: the threat to homeland and international security back in 2016. While I am not in favour of foreign terrorist fighter repatriation, nor am I keen on stripping one’s status, as the following paragraphs should make clear.

In the midst of the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign, the governing Conservative government announced that it was taking steps to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists in Canada, although it was unclear what implications this move would entail.  There were voices calling for similar steps to be taken against foreign fighters with IS.  After the Liberals won a majority, they quickly put a hold on this measure in Canadian courts.

Part of me feels that this is just displacing, and not solving the problem.  If we deport a terrorist to the country where s/he holds other citizenship (assuming that the other country agrees to take the individual – cases in Canada show that this can be convoluted), aren’t we just giving our problem to someone else?  What if that country practices torture or has no decent Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programming?  What is to stop that individual from re-engaging?

Furthermore, and I do not think that this aspect has been discussed nearly enough, it seems that the individuals subject to possible citizenship revocation and deportation were actually radicalized in the West.  Getting rid of them does not address the environment and the players where the radicalization occurred.  In a sense, we own them.   So, how does offing our problem make things better?  Does it act as a deterrent?   Those whose citizenship was revoked could just as easily return on false documentation.  Legislation along these lines strikes me as vindictive and knee-jerk.

Another weakness in citizenship revocation is its limited application.  States cannot render an individual stateless, hence a person can have his or her citizenship removed only if s/he has another one to fall back on.  In the absence of dual citizenship governments cannot use this tool.  By doing so they in effect create two tiers of citizenship and apply laws discriminately against one section of society.  This strikes me as counter to the democratic systems we have built in the West.

Nevertheless, a number of countries have indicated that they will enact legislation to remove citizenship from terrorists.  Among those are:

  • In December 2015, Australia passed a law to remove citizenship from those under four criteria: engaging in terrorist acts, provide or receive training in preparation for a terrorist act, direct activities of a terrorist organisation, recruit or finance terrorists or terrorism; fighting in the service of a declared terrorist group;  convicted of a terrorism offence and sentenced to at least six years’ jail; or convicted of terrorism in the previous decade – retrospective measures allowing citizenship to be revoked for convicted terrorists in jail.

  • In October 2015 France announced plans to strip citizenship from five terrorists in its counter-terrorism struggle  This promise, repeated after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, was rescinded the following December when politicians decided it would be too divisive, only to be re-instated a day later  It would be applied to dual citizens convicted of terrorism offences.  The move led to accusations that France was pandering to the far right and was following in the footsteps of the WWII Vichy regime that stripped Jews of their French citizenship.  The planned measure remained controversial as of January 2016.  At the end of March 2016 the government finally announced it would not implement the measure.

  • Other countries considering such measures include Russia, Israel, Belgium and Norway.

Source: https://borealisthreatandrisk.com/citizenship-revocation-is-not-the-answer-to-terrorism/

Australia admits misstep over Islamic State suspect [citizenship revocation and statelessness]

Finally publicly admitted:

Australia failed to make basic checks before stripping a suspected Islamic State fighter of his citizenship, a senior official said Wednesday, an admission likely to call into question the legality of the move.

The country last month striped Neil Prakash of citizenship after claiming he was Fijian — prompting strenuous denials from the authorities in Suva and an embarrassing diplomatic rift.

Prakash is accused of being a member of the IS jihadist group, and identified as the 12th Australian dual-national to lose their passport over terrorism links.

He is currently in Turkey facing charges of joining the organisation.

A parliamentary intelligence committee on Wednesday grilled Home Affairs officials on the issue, asking whether they verified his status with Fiji or consulted experts in Fijian law before revoking Prakash’s citizenship.

“No, we did not” admitted senior department official Linda Geddes.

If Prakash is neither Fijian nor Australian he would now be stateless in contravention of decades old UN accords and Australian law.

A Special Counsel advising the government told the parliamentary committee he offered “strong advice” on the case, but would not go into detail.

The move against Prakash was touted at the time by hardline Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton as the ruling Liberal Party eyed its base supporters and May elections.

But it created an awkward backdrop for a recent landmark Pacific visit by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Source: Australia admits misstep over Islamic State suspect

And in related news, lawyers express concern over expansion of Australian citizenship revocation policy towards those convicted of minor crimes:

Australian lawyers are afraid petty criminals and people participating in religious festivals could be rendered stateless under citizenship law changes aimed at homegrown terrorists.

Constitutional and human rights experts have also expressed grave concerns about the “irredeemable” bill being put forward by the federal government.

The Morrison government wants to be able to deport Australian-born extremists who are entitled to citizenship in another country.

But the Law Council of Australia fears the proposed powers would be disproportionately harsh and could breach international law.

Dual nationals sentenced to at least six years jail for terror offences can already be stripped of their Australian citizenship.

The coalition wants to scrap the six-year threshold and expand the range of offences it can rely upon.

The Law Council’s David Neal is urging the federal parliamentary intelligence committee to keep the existing triggers in place.

“Low-level offending, which is dealt with to finality in a local court, could be captured by laws that lead to citizenship cessation,” he told committee members in Canberra on Wednesday.

Dr Neal is also concerned the offence of “associating with a terrorist organisation” could capture people participating in legitimate social gatherings and religious festivals.

Constitutional expert George Williams believes tinkering with the bill could also capture religious pilgrims and business people who venture into politically-sensitive areas.

“There is no actual involvement in terrorism, there is no suggestion of disloyalty, but that would trigger under this legislation the possibility of revocation,” he told the committee.

Professor Williams said the bill would have a range of “extreme and unjustified” consequences and could make the community less safe.

“In fact, it may do some harm, particularly in the broader agenda of building social cohesion.”

The laws would also significantly lower the threshold around proving a person’s citizenship of another country.

Under the changes, the minister would only need to be “reasonably satisfied” a person may be entitled to citizenship elsewhere.

“As recent history demonstrates – in both the cases of members of parliament and the (Neil) Prakash case – determining existing foreign citizenship can be difficult,” Dr Neal said.

“Determinations based on predictions about future foreign citizenship – which may include decisions by foreign governments – are obviously fraught.”

The Morrison government sparked a diplomatic fight with Fiji over the summer break after stripping Prakash of his Australian citizenship.

The Islamic terrorist was born in Melbourne to a Fijian father but Fiji says he is not a citizen.

The federal government has indicated dual nationals who are stripped of their citizenship could languish indefinitely in immigration detention if other countries refuse to take them.

Source: Lawyers flag fears about citizenship laws

Fiji casts fresh doubt on decision to strip terrorist Neil Prakash of Australian citizenship

Almost comical in the Australian government’s ineptitude. A reminder of the challenges in determining whether or not someone slated for revocation is actually a citizen, or entitled to the citizenship, of another country:

Fijian officials have rejected claims Australian-born terrorist Neil Prakash is a citizen of their country, leading the Federal Opposition to label Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as an embarrassment to the country.

Last month Mr Dutton revealed the Federal Government had revoked Prakash’s rights as an Australian citizen because of his affiliation with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

The Federal Government argued it could strip his citizenship because it had “clear advice” he had, or was entitled to, Fijian citizenship.

Prakash was born in Melbourne to a Fijian father and Cambodian mother. He is currently in jail in Turkey, awaiting trial on multiple terror charges.

Now Fiji’s Immigration Director Nemani Vuniwaqa has told the ABC there is no evidence of Prakash or his parents ever being Fijian citizens.

“[There are] no records of Mr Prakash being a Fiji citizen,” he said.

“We do not have any records of his immediate family either, unless if it was provided to the Department.”

Fijian law states the children of a former citizen can apply for citizenship, provided that one of their parents was still a citizen at the time of their birth.

In an indication of how Canberra has handled the matter, Mr Vuniwaqa said he had not received any communication from the Australian Government about Prakash’s case.

“I first received info from a local media source who quoted that Mr Prakash had been stripped off his Australian citizenship,” he said.

“There was no formal communication with regards to the plans by the Australian Government.”

The ABC understands the Federal Government communicated with the Fijian Foreign Ministry about the case.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is making an official visit to Fiji next week, where the matter will likely be discussed.

Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann said Mr Dutton had badly mishandled the situation.

“Peter Dutton didn’t consult, or have his department consult with the Fijian Government before he announced that he was stripping this terrorist of citizenship.

“Peter Dutton is a shameless, self-serving media tart on this issue and what he’s done is embarrassed himself, has embarrassed the Prime Minister, embarrassed our country, and in a week’s time Prime Minister Morrison has to go to Fiji to sort out Peter Dutton’s mess.”

The Federal Government is standing by its decision.

“Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has been very clear in his comments about Neil Prakash, he’s made it clear what the Government’s position is,” cabinet minister Paul Fletcher said.

“He’s also made it clear he’s not going to be providing a running commentary on this matter.”

Legal experts said if Prakash was not Fijian, the Australian government’s decision would be invalid.

“If he isn’t a citizen or a national of another country other than Australia then it’s beyond statutory authority,” Rayner Thwaites, a senior law lecturer from the University of Sydney said.

“It’s as if the citizenship deprivation hadn’t happened, it would not have effect.”

Source: Fiji casts fresh doubt on decision to strip terrorist Neil Prakash of Australian citizenship

Trump administration seeks to strip more people of citizenship

Appears little distinction between material and significant fraud, or misrepresentation and inadvertent mistakes, as the criteria have expanded:

U.S. government officials are making a coordinated effort to find evidence of immigration fraud by reexamining the files of immigrants who became U.S. citizens.

They are searching for cases where individuals used more than one identity or concealed prior deportation orders before filing for citizenship. Such evidence may provide grounds to strip citizenship from those who allegedly gained it unlawfully.

While the program is not new — it began under the Obama administration — the Trump administration has announced an intention to significantly expand it. More than 700,000 casesin which individuals were granted citizenship are under review.

The Department of Justice announced in January 2018 that it expects to file actions to revoke citizenship against approximately 1,600 people. Six months later, the United States announced plans to hire “several dozen lawyers and immigration officers” to staff a new office focused on this work.

Over the past 30 years, the government has sought to revoke citizenship only on a case-by-case basis after becoming aware of individual wrongdoing. As a result, prosecutors filed around a dozen cases each year to revoke citizenship – a process called denaturalization.

The Trump administration has sharply increased the number of denaturalization attempts already, filing 25 cases in 2017 and another 20 during the first half of 2018.

We are law professors who have studied the court records in the most recent cases. Our review of the court filings suggests that the government’s litigation procedures carry a disturbingly high risk of mistakenly taking away citizenship from someone who committed neither crime nor fraud.

Looking for fraud, finding errors

The original purpose of the program, which the Obama administration initiated in 2016 and called Operation Janus, was to identify people who might create a risk to national security.

It narrowly targeted individuals who “naturalized using false identities to hide their criminal past.” In other words, anyone who immigrated honestly had no reason to worry about losing citizenship.

However, the Trump administration’s tougher stance on immigration means enforcement has expanded beyond cases involving serious crimes or terrorist threats. This tougher enforcement risks sweeping in mere clerical errors.

Cases are being filed against individuals with no criminal history or connections to terror groups. The first Operation Janus case that resulted in an order to revoke citizenship demonstrates this expansion.

Here’s the story: In 1991, a 17-year-old Punjabi male with no travel documentation arrived in California seeking asylum. He was taken into custody, and a translator recorded his name as Davinder Singh. At his request, he was released to friends in New Jersey and ordered to appear in court in January 1992. When he didn’t show up to court on the day he was directed to appear, the court issued a deportation order. We don’t know if he left the country.

Less than a month later, someone with the same set of fingerprints but the name Baljinder Singh filed for asylum in the same New Jersey court. The court found that the case had enough merit to proceed. Eventually, Baljinder Singh became a citizen.

More than 25 years later, the government, under Operation Janus, matched the two sets of fingerprints and alleged that Singh intentionally used a fraudulent identity to get a second chance to seek asylum and get citizenship. In January 2018, the government officially revoked his citizenship.

At first glance, this case may seem straightforward.

But in an article forthcoming in the New York University Law Review, we explain how the discrepancy in name could have easily resulted from a translator’s error rather than from intentional fraud.

We don’t know exactly what happened to Singh. We have not been able to locate him, and no news articles about his case include interviews with him.

However, the evidence shows that the way denaturalization cases are being litigated makes it difficult for the justice system to distinguish between fraud and bureaucratic error.

Citizenship vulnerabilities

For example, Singh lost his citizenship without ever appearing in court to defend himself, either personally or through an attorney. Our review of the 2017-18 court records reveals it’s possible he didn’t know a denaturalization case had been filed against him.

Even when defendants learn that an action has been filed, other hurdles remain. A defendant may have moved far away — even out of the country — and not be able to afford to travel to court. Defendants with enough money can hire an attorney to appear on their behalf. But hiring legal representation can be expensive, and there is no right to an appointed attorney in such cases. Failing to show up means that the court will hear from only the government’s side — and will likely accept the allegations as true.

In Singh’s case, the court concluded that his failure to report earlier proceedings under a different name arose from an intent to deceive — and not from a mere transcription error or misunderstanding.

Singh’s case is the first of many that the government plans to pursue. We do not believe that the underlying evidence in Singh’s case clearly shows fraud, criminality or any national security risk. It also wasn’t clear that he had notice of the hearing or an opportunity to defend himself.

Combined, these factors undermine confidence in the system.

More broadly, they create fear among naturalized citizens. People justifiably worry their own citizenship could be vulnerable in future cases.

We argue that the Constitution’s guarantee of due process requires heightened procedural protections when citizenship is at risk. That means requiring personal notice, a right to counsel for indigent defendants and a time limit for bringing cases, which would increase confidence that citizenship would not be revoked for minor errors or bureaucratic mistakes.

Citizenship is more than just a personal interest. In the words of the Supreme Court, confidence in the stability of citizenship affects the “very nature of our free government.”

If future Operation Janus cases follow the same trajectory as the Singh case, they risk undermining the very idea of equality of citizenship in our democracy.

 

Source: Trump administration seeks to strip more people of citizenship

ICYMI: Sajid Javid ‘taking UK down dangerous road’ by expanding citizenship stripping

Further undermining of citizenship through expanded revocation beyond terror or treason:

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is taking the UK down a “very dangerous road” with plans to expand powers to strip dual citizens of their British citizenship, a leading human rights group has warned.

Suspected terrorists have previously had their UK citizenship taken away – most often while they are abroad – and the move does not require prior approval from a judge or parliament.

In his speech at the Conservative party conference, Javid proposed extending the reach of the power to cover serious criminals, citing child grooming gangmasters as an example.

Corey Stoughton, acting director of Liberty, the human rights and civil liberties group, said: “The home secretary is taking us down a very dangerous road. Few will sympathise with the people this power has been used against – but making our criminals someone else’s problem is not responsible, effective policymaking. It’s the government washing its hands of its responsibilities.

“Accepting citizenship stripping as a legitimate punishment could see us all sleepwalking into a future where the list of ‘serious’ crimes gets ever longer and the government uses this extreme measure more and more frequently. Banishment belongs in the dark ages and has no place in the UK in 2018.”

From 2010 to 2015, 33 people were stripped of their British citizenship, all of them dual nationals, on terrorism grounds. Figures for 2015 onward have not been made available.

Javid has made tackling child sexual exploitation a key issue for his department. He recently announced an extra £21.5m to help investigators who say they are facing a “constant uphill struggle” to track down offenders.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Any British citizen may be deprived of his or her citizenship if the secretary of state is satisfied that it would be conducive to the public good. It is a power used for extreme and exceptional cases.

“Deprivation on conducive grounds can be used where individuals pose a threat to national security, or have been involved in war crimes, serious and organised crime and unacceptable behaviours such as extremism or glorification of terrorism.”

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said citizenship stripping was discriminatory against minority communities. “Stripping dual nationals of British citizenship is inherently discriminatory and risks creating yet another ‘hostile environment’ not for illegality but for Britain’s many minority communities,” she said.

“The Conservatives’ inability to learn from past mistakes beggars belief, even when mealy mouthed apologies are barely dry on the page. Why not punish Britons according to their crimes rather than their origins?”

In his conference speech, Javid said: “The home secretary has the power to strip dual citizens of their British citizenship. It is a power used for extreme and exceptional cases. It should be used with great care and discretion – but also determination.

“In recent years we have exercised this power for terrorists who are a threat to the country. Now, for the first time, I will apply this power to some of those who are convicted of the most grave criminal offences. This applies to some of the despicable men involved in gang-based child sexual exploitation.”

Source: Sajid Javid ‘taking UK down dangerous road’ by expanding citizenship stripping

Stripping Helmut Oberlander, 94, of Canadian citizenship ‘reasonable,’ court rules

Finally. Hopefully this will mark the end of an over 20 year process:

A government decision to strip Canadian citizenship from an elderly man, who argued he was forced as a teenager to join a Nazi death squad, was reasonable, a Federal Court judge ruled on Thursday.

In a ruling that again paves the way to deport Helmut Oberlander, Judge Michael Phelan found the government’s decision more than a year ago to have been justified and transparent.

“It is uncontested that Oberlander obtained his Canadian citizenship by false representation or by knowingly concealing material circumstances by failing to disclose involvement in the SS at the time of his immigration screening,” Phelan wrote. “There is no doubt that to have done so would have resulted in the rejection of his citizenship application.”

The government maintains the Ukraine-born Oberlander, 94, of Waterloo, Ont., lied about his three-year membership in Einsatzkommando 10a, known as Ek 10a. The Second World War Nazi death squad, which operated behind the German army’s front line in eastern Europe, was responsible for killing close to 100,000 people, most Jewish.

In his defence, Oberlander argued he was conscripted as a 17-year-old and faced execution for desertion. He said he served as an interpreter from 1941 to 1943, performed only mundane duties, and never took part in any killings. On that last point, Phelan agreed with him.

“No evidence was led that indicated (Oberlander) directly participated in the atrocities committed by Ek 10a,” Phelan said. “But he was aware that these atrocities were being committed.”

Neither Oberlander’s lawyer nor daughter, who has said her father was in increasingly poor health, were immediately available to comment on the decision, which Jewish groups praised along with the government’s efforts.

In Ottawa, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the court decision reaffirms the government’s view that Canada “should never be a safe haven for war criminals and people who’ve been accused of crimes, who’ve committed crimes against humanity.”

Oberlander and his wife — she died in 2013 — came to Canada in 1954. He became a Canadian citizen six years later. However, he failed to disclose his wartime experience when he came to Canada, and has been fighting government efforts to deport him since his membership in Ek 10a came to light in 1995.

Among other things, the father of two argued that Ottawa failed to consider whether he had joined Ek 10a under duress.

“If the applicant knew nothing and did only mundane activities, it was unclear why he claimed to have been under duress,” Phelan said.

In June 2017, the government revoked the retired businessman’s citizenship for the fourth time, prompting him again to turn to the courts in an effort to stave off deportation.

In dismissing the challenge, Phelan leaned on a previous court finding of “many inconsistencies and improbabilities” in Oberlander’s evidence and a “pattern of minimizing his wartime role, which gave rise to serious doubts regarding reliability.”

Ultimately, Phelan said, Ottawa’s citizenship action was absent bad faith, and legally and factually defensible. That the case has taken this long, Phelan said, was largely because of Oberlander’s successes to date in fighting efforts to remove him.

In a statement, Jewish groups applauded Phelan’s ruling as thwarting Oberlander’s attempt to evade justice.

“For survivors, this issue remains an open wound,” Sidney Zoltak, past president of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, said on Thursday. “It is painful to think that Oberlander and others who perpetrated heinous crimes against our families have, for so long, concealed their past and taken advantage of welcoming countries like Canada.”

Source: Stripping Helmut Oberlander, 94, of Canadian citizenship ‘reasonable,’ court rules

US launches campaign to strip immigration cheaters of citizenship, once a rare process

No issue with cracking down on fraud and misrepresentation, unlike some of the other Trump administration policies, although legitimate concern over how it may be done:

The US government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna said his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalisation.

Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.

Until now, the agency has pursued cases as they arose but not through a coordinated effort, Cissna said. He said he hopes the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalising people who should not have been naturalised in the first place,” Cissna said. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

He declined to say how much the effort would cost but said it would be covered by the agency’s existing budget, which is funded by immigration application fees.

The push comes as the Trump administration has been cracking down on illegal immigration and taking steps to reduce legal immigration to the US.

Denaturalisation – the process of removing citizenship – is very rare.

The US government began looking at potentially fraudulent naturalisation cases a decade ago when a border officer detected about 200 people had used different identities to get green cards and citizenship after they were previously issued deportation orders.

In September 2016, an internal watchdog reported that 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who had been deported or had criminal convictions had not been uploaded to a Department of Homeland Security database that is used to check immigrants’ identities. The same report found more than 800 immigrants had been ordered deported under one identity but became US citizens under another.

Since then, the government has been uploading these older fingerprint records dating back to the 1990s and investigators have been evaluating cases for denaturalisation.

Earlier this year, a judge revoked the citizenship of an Indian-born New Jersey man named Baljinder Singh after federal authorities accused him of using an alias to avoid deportation.

Authorities said Singh used a different name when he arrived in the United States in 1991. He was ordered deported the next year and a month later applied for asylum using the name Baljinder Singh before marrying an American, getting a green card and naturalising.

Authorities said Singh did not mention his earlier deportation order when he applied for citizenship.

For many years, most US efforts to strip immigrants of their citizenship focused largely on suspected war criminals who lied on their immigration paperwork, most notably former Nazis.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, officials began reviewing cases stemming from the fingerprints probe but prioritised those of naturalised citizens who had obtained security clearances, for example, to work at the Transportation Security Administration, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University law school.

The Trump administration has made these investigations a bigger priority, he said. He said he expects cases will focus on deliberate fraud but some naturalised Americans may feel uneasy with the change.

“It is clearly true that we have entered a new chapter when a much larger number of people could feel vulnerable that their naturalisation could be reopened,” Chishti said.

Since 1990, the Department of Justice has filed 305 civil denaturalisation cases, according to statistics obtained by an immigration attorney in Kansas who has defended immigrants in these cases.

The attorney, Matthew Hoppock, agrees that deportees who lied to get citizenship should face consequences but worries other immigrants who might have made mistakes on their paperwork could get targeted and might not have the money to fight back in court.

Cissna said there are valid reasons why immigrants might be listed under multiple names, noting many Latin American immigrants have more than one surname. He said the US government is not interested in that kind of minor discrepancy but wants to target people who deliberately changed their identities to dupe officials into granting immigration benefits.

“The people who are going to be targeted by this – they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on,” Cissna said. “It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them.”

Source: US launches campaign to strip immigration cheaters of citizenship, once a rare process