UK must restore ISIL bride Shamima Begun’s citizenship

Echoes of previous debates regarding citizenship revocation under C-24, repealed by the Liberal government. Challenge, of course, remains in successfully prosecuting those involved in ISIS.

And of course, given that those involved in ISIS range from immigrants, second generation and “old-stock” citizens, revocation has a broader impact than just immigrants and their children.

Moreover, there is a risk of viewing those involved in ISIS only as victims, without any agency or responsibility:

ISIL bride Shamima Begum, whose British citizenship was revoked in 2019 on national security grounds, can return to the UK from Syria to plead her case to restore her citizenship, according to a UK court. The Court of Appeal ruled on July 16 that Begum had been denied a fair hearing because she could not properly defend herself from Syria. The verdict means that the UK government is now required to find a way to coordinate the return of Begum, who is currently being held in Camp Roj, a refugee camp in northern Syria.

This case could set a precedent for Canada and the rest of the Western world.

At the age of 15, Begum travelled to Syria to marry a Dutch jihadi who had converted to Islam and joined ISIL. After four years with ISIL, Begum, nine months pregnant, revealed her identity to war correspondent Anthony Loyd. “I am a sister from London,” she told him. “I’m a Bethnal Green girl…I’m scared that this baby is going to get sick in this camp…That’s why I really want to get back to Britain, because I know it will get taken care of, health-wise at least.”

By then, Begum’s two other children had died in ISIL territories, reportedly due to malnutrition. Loyd’s story appeared on the front page of The Times and created a social media storm.

In under a week, the UK government stripped Begum of her citizenship. While the Geneva Conventions prohibit making citizens stateless, the government justified taking away citizenship by pointing out that Begum’s mother is Bangladeshi, which means Begum might be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship. However, in May 2019, the Bangladeshi foreign minister, Abul-Kalam Abdul-Momen, stated that Begum has “nothing to do” with Bangladesh and would be denied entry, and if she did find her way there she would face capital punishment due to zero-tolerance policies for terrorist activities. “The British government is responsible for her,” he said. Three weeks after her citizenship was revoked, Begum’s baby died of a respiratory infection. She continues to be effectively stateless.

Loyd described Begum as emotionless and awkward, with no discernible sympathy. Begum revealed she was not disturbed by the sight of decapitated heads of fighters in a trash can in Raqqa, by other atrocities or by the torture and murder of Western journalists by ISIL. After hearing this, anyone would see Begum as someone who does not deserve empathy. Scholar Lisa Downing has argued that it should not matter how we feel about Begum. Even so, if Begum’s intention has been to return, why has she not at least pretended to be remorseful?

Begum’s statements are precisely what I would anticipate from an indoctrinated child, spending years living within the reach of ISIL’s extreme propaganda machine. Her demeanour and lack of emotion and remorse may be a response to emotional trauma. We don’t know the full story because she has not undergone a proper evaluation with a trauma specialist. Begum’s lack of emotion matches that of many born-again insurgents whom I have interviewed.

In my fieldwork, an ex-combatant with Jundallah, an insurgent group in Iran, told me about the first time he was assigned to execute a hostage to prove his devotion to the cause. “The man was weltering around, fighting for his life, screaming.” It took multiple bullets to kill the prisoner, not the single shot he had imagined. “It killed me inside…After that experience, nothing fazes me anymore…I am dead inside.” The reality of what it means to fight for the cause shook him, and he eventually escaped to Turkey to help with a disillusionment, deradicalization and disengagement initiative. He explained that many foreign recruits want to prove themselves, to be considered insiders. They take their assignments seriously and cling strongly to the ideology to remove any remnant of hesitation, doubt or guilt.

Putting aside Begum’s lack of penitence, the first question should never have been “Where are her parents from?” but rather “What is the right thing to do?” It was much easier to strip her of citizenship and reframe the discussion in the media than to ask the hard question: Why do men and women join extremist organizations? Western-born members often have the opportunity to enjoy comfortable, middle-class lives, with the chance to advance in admired, conventional careers. Instead, they choose terrorism and commit heinous acts of violence against their fellow citizens, often at the price of their own lives. We need to rewind and ask what went wrong.

During my 2018 fieldwork, I met Jabbar, a 32-year-old barbershop owner in Paris. While he disdained acts of terror, he told me that he understood why people join extremist groups. When he was younger, with no job, and “constantly getting harassed by everyone on every occasion,” he internalized vast challenges with his identity and harboured a deep sense of alienation. He was accepted neither in France nor in Algeria, where his parents emigrated from. To be accepted as French, “you have to change your hair, switch your name to Pierre, eat pork, drink wine, and in the end, they still call you a cosmopolitan Muslim.” He was also ridiculed in Algeria and was not considered a true Algerian because of his accent and clothing. He asserted that was why second-generation youths feel alienated and excluded.

Begum’s case is an example of how citizenship, along with other rights often taken for granted by the majority, is variable and portrayed as a privilege for those whose parents or grandparents are immigrants.

In a story that made headlines recently, a sales manager named Mohamed Amghar described being coerced to change his name to Antoine, a traditional French name, at work. He is suing his former firm for 440,000 euros and filing a discrimination complaint. He was pressured into using the name on business cards, conference badges, plane tickets and even performance awards. “If people like me, who did what was necessary to get good jobs, to get training, to live as citizens, are besmirched and denied our rights, where are we going?” Amghar said. “I only have one name, I only have one nationality,” he added. “My name is Mohamed, and I am French.” The systemic nature of micro-aggressions, discrimination, racism and xenophobia has been documented throughout most of Western Europe, the United States and Canada. This narrative was common across my fieldwork and may be applicable for young recruits who have gone on to conduct terrorist activities, recruited by a group that claimed to finally accept them in all aspects of their being.

As part of Western governments’ obligations to fix their counterterrorism strategies, Western countries need to create an effective response for returnees. Begum’s case is an example of how citizenship, along with other rights often taken for granted by the majority, is variable and portrayed as a privilege for those whose parents or grandparents are immigrants. Insurgent groups appeal to this notion. An ISIS magazine  stated, “They never will consider you an equal to the white man,” and claimed you will always be considered second-class citizens. Efforts have continued to “other” Begum for her mother’s immigrant status. All the while, politicians have riled up the public, framing her case as a decision about whether to “welcome back a terrorist.”

I am not saying Begum shouldn’t be held accountable. I firmly believe that she should be subject to criminal prosecution, if appropriate, along with rehabilitation. As I have argued before, bringing back returnees may provide the opportunity to enhance counterterrorism intelligence by drawing upon them as a resource on extremist recruitment and radicalization strategies. Perhaps even more importantly, bringing back returnees would allow the UK and other Western nations to uphold human rights by pursuing justice through the judicial system and by providing the appropriate rehabilitation. Instead, we are seeing an acceleration and cultivation of separate justice for separate peoples. Consider this: Would Begum have lost her citizenship if her parents were from Leeds?

Revoking citizenship based on parents’ immigration status sidesteps the ethical obligations that states have toward their citizens and alienates second-generation immigrants, deepening prejudices they are already well accustomed to experiencing. The UK has the opportunity to change its course and set an example for Canada and the rest of the world. Begum should have a fair trial in the only country where she has ever held citizenship.

Western nations should reconsider their stance on repatriation despite the challenges involved. They should bring home their citizens to demonstrate their commitment to justice for all and prevent the secondary effects of the cycle of alienation, isolation and othering that leads to extremism in the first place. This is part of any proper justice system and could reduce radicalization in youth in the long run. It could foster belonging, which is something the politics of fear cannot do. Western nations must look upstream and deconstruct the systems and policies in place that are riddled with micro-aggressions, structural xenophobia and outright racism to reconstruct an inclusive society that would eliminate the breeding ground for radicalization that currently exists.

Source: UK must restore ISIL bride Shamima Begun’s citizenship

Taking Away Citizenship as a Counterterrorism Tool Is Fraught with Challenges

Phil Gurski, from the security perspective:

Citizenship is an important part of the modern world. Most of us are a citizen of at least one country. Having citizenship confers special privileges: the right to vote, the right to receive certain social assistance, the right to work, and a feeling of belonging. It should not be dismissed or used frivolously.

A lot of countries also grant citizenship to those who emigrate from their homelands to a new one (sometimes called ‘naturalized’). This process often takes some time – years in most cases – and is accompanied by all sorts of checks and reviews. After all, no state wants to bring in people with shady backgrounds who are capable of causing mayhem once they become ‘one of us.’

In my experience in Canada, the citizenship pathway is as good as it can be. The necessary agencies, including intelligence and law enforcement, are part of the decision-making process, ensuring to the greatest degree possible that we prevent ‘undesirables’ from making their new home in our nation. Is the system perfect? No, but it is very robust.

Under what conditions, then, should citizenship be revoked? We should assume here that the only type that can be removed is that which has been granted by the state: ordinarily those born in a country automatically receive it at birth (children of foreign diplomats may be an exception), and it far from clear whether there is anything that could – or should – lead a state to rescind birth citizenship (NB Canada is currently dealing with the phenomenon of ‘birth tourism’ whereby pregnant women, often from Asia, travel to give birth in Canadian hospitals. Where all this goes is under debate now.)

Modern terrorism has thrown a wrench into all this. In hundreds of countries citizens have radicalized to violence in accordance with an ideology, left the confines of their homeland, joined a group abroad and become part of it, committed atrocities in the group’s name on occasion and eventually seek to come home. Not surprisingly, few states want these individuals back as they could very well organize or commit acts of terrorism in their backyards. What can we do to prevent their return?

Under these circumstances, is citizenship revocation OK? Normally, no. Our governments take away what they have granted only if it can be demonstrated the process in place at the time of application was fraudulent. In other words, if so-and-so lied on a form and tried to hide certain facts from those investigating the claim, that application can be subsequently voided. This should not be controversial as all the relevant facts were not made available when needed and as a result the individual does not deserve to become one of us.

What, then, do we do in cases of terrorists, some of whom were born in our countries, some of whom got citizenship after having moved, but became terrorists later (sometime much, much later)? After all, the vast majority of terrorists are made not born. Can we take away their birthright/gift?

In the former case, no. Few if any countries have tried to do this and where they have they have tied themselves in legal knots. The UK has taken away the citizenship of ISIS member Shamima Begum despite the inconvenient fact that she was born in England. The government has tried to argue that she is ‘entitled’ to Bangladeshi citizenship as her ancestry lies in that country; hence, she has not been rendered stateless. Bangladesh sees the matter quite differently.

Then we have the case of Iyman Faris, an al-Qaeda terrorist who was found guilty and sentenced in 2003 for his role in a plot to cut the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge. A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, stripped him of his naturalized U.S. citizenship after ruling that he had lied on immigration papers before becoming a citizen in 1999 (he entered the U.S. using the passport and visa of someone he’d met in Bosnia). The official also ruled that Faris’ terrorist affiliations demonstrated a lack of commitment to the U.S. Constitution.

Two years earlier another judge had rejected a similar request by the government, saying at the time there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Mr. Faris’ misrepresentations influenced the decision to grant him citizenship.

Where does this leave us? In a legal quandary, that’s where. The UK handling of Ms. Begum beggars disbelief as she is the citizen of one and only one country. The U.S. strategy in the case of Faris suggests that anyone who does anything illegal at any point in their life is at risk of having their citizenship clawed back. Neither case is ideal.

The bottom line is that Ms. Begum, and perhaps Mr. Faris, were radicalized where they lived and worked. They are a product of a part of our society – not a proud part, but a part nonetheless. Recalling citizenship merely displaces the problem: it does not solve it.

Source: https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/perspective-taking-away-citizenship-as-a-counterterrorism-tool-is-fraught-with-challenges/

ICYMI: Australia – Revoke automatic citizenship loss laws, intelligence committee urges

Under citizenship laws, any dual citizen aged over 14 automatically renounces their Australian citizenship if they act “inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia” by engaging in terrorist acts.

As of February, 12 people have lost their citizenship in this way.

But government departments and legal experts alike have criticised the automatic nature of the laws.

Dr Sangeetha Pillai and Professor George Williams have said automatic revocation was not only impractical, but potentially unconstitutional.

The Department of Home Affairs said the automatic loss of citizenship limited Australia’s ability to prosecute those individuals for their crimes.

The government had moved to change the laws, after the Independent Monitor of National Security legislation James Renwick called for the automatic provisions to be replaced with ministerial discretion.

Now the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security – led by Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie – has agreed a ministerial decision-making model would be better.

The committee found as the law current works, the minister’s role is effectively limited to restoring a person’s citizenship after it has been lost or exempting a person from the automatic provisions.

A ministerial decision-making model would allow the minister to take into account a broader range of considerations in determining whether to cease an individual’s citizenship, the committee said.

“This determination was founded on advice from national security agencies, which advised the committee that further flexibility was required to utilise citizenship cessation to maximum effect,” the report said.

However such a model is not foolproof.

Australia became embroiled in a diplomatic stoush with Fiji in January after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton stripped Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash of his Australian citizenship on the understanding he also held citizenship in Fiji. Fiji denied he was a citizen and Prakash has effectively been left stateless.

The recommendation came as separate laws passed parliament that would make it tougher for terrorists to get bail.

The bill also closed a loophole that could have prevented some high-risk terrorists from being kept in custody after their sentences expired on continuing detention orders.

It also came as counter terrorism police arrested an alleged terrorist in Sydney on Wednesday.

Source: Revoke automatic citizenship loss laws, intelligence committee urges

Dutton pushing for citizenship loss powers

Appears to be over-reach given lack of due process:

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has introduced legislative changes making it easier to cancel the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terror offences.

“This bill is designed to protect the integrity of Australian citizenship, to ensure that we have the necessary powers to keep Australians safe,” he told the lower house on Thursday.

The proposal gives the minister discretionary powers to sever a dual national’s Australian ties if they have rejected their “allegiance” to the nation.

This includes taking part in terrorism, being part of an overseas terrorist group, or being sentenced to at least three years in prison for terror offences.

But as the government attempts to make the citizenship loss laws even harsher, the public servant responsible for monitoring Australia’s national security laws has poked holes in existing legislation.

James Renwick has identified “uncontrolled and uncertain” aspects of citizenship cancellation laws already in operation.

Dr Renwick has no qualm with revoking the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of serious terror offences.

But he has taken issue with “less conventional” powers, allowing citizenship to be stripped from anyone aged over 14 engaged in terrorist conduct, without a conviction or decision by a public official.

Dr Renwick warned the provisions did not sufficiently protect human rights, and were likely to breach international law.

“I have concluded that these provisions do not pass muster under the (relevant) act and should, with some urgency, be repealed with retrospective effect,” he said in a report tabled in parliament.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the report shone an embarrassing light on the minister.

“It shows why national security law can’t be left to Peter Dutton, and why we need proper time to consider crucial legislation,” he told AAP.

Current laws apply to those sentenced to at least six years in prison since 2015 or at least 10 years after 2005.

The changes could affect anyone convicted of terror offences and sentenced to at least three years’ jail since 2003.

A dual citizen might not even be notified their Australian citizenship has been cancelled, if the minister thinks telling them will cause a national security risk.

If so, the minister has to review such a decision every 90 days for five years.

Anyone who has their citizenship torn up can appeal the decision.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said Labor would consider the proposed laws.

“When it comes to keeping Australia safe from violent extremism and terrorism we should expect and demand a home affairs minister and government that are listening to our national security agencies,” she said.

Source: Dutton pushing for citizenship loss powers

‘Jihadi Jack’ and the folly of revoking citizenship: Macklin

Understandably, Macklin is the most quoted expert on citizenship revocation:

The British government has just stripped Islamic State recruit Jack Lettsof his United Kingdom citizenship.

In one sense, the move was unsurprising. The U.K. has been the undisputed leader in reviving banishment as punishment for “crimes against citizenship,” deploying it primarily against those deemed threats to national security.

The country’s Home Secretary favours stripping citizenship of nationals already abroad, which has the convenient effect of circumventing legal accountability and human rights impediments to deportation.

The mildly surprising feature of the U.K.‘s decision is that it has opted to make Letts Canada’s problem. Letts is currently being held in a jail in northern Syria after being captured by Kurdish forces in 2017.

Letts’ father is a Canadian citizen and, therefore, his son is a Canadian citizen by descent. As a result, the U.K. can deprive him of citizenship without rendering Letts stateless because he will remain a citizen of Canada.

With limited exceptions, international law prohibits rendering people stateless, though the U.K. plays fast and loose on that front. It strips citizenship from those who are dual citizens as well those who are not, but whom the Home Secretary speculates could, in the future, possibly obtain citizenship from some other country.

It doesn’t much matter to the U.K., really. Once discarded, the former citizen might be executed by drone strike, transferred elsewhere for prosecution or persecution or detained indefinitely by non-state armed forces. Wherever they go, it won’t be back to Britain, and whatever happens to them, they are someone else’s problem. That’s what makes citizenship deprivation, in the language of the British law, “conducive to the public good.”

No espionage or treason

Why another country should bear sole responsibility for a citizen that the U.K. disavows is an interesting question. These are not classic instances of espionage or treason, where the historic narrative underwriting stripping citizenship was that the individual betrayed one state in the service of the other state.

Shamima Begum, a British citizen who joined the Islamic State as a 19-year-old in 2015, was not working for Bangladesh in Syria. Jack Letts was not a Canadian spy.

I speculate that the British government has, until Letts, traded on a tacit understanding that British Muslims with brown skin inherently “belong” less to the U.K. than to some other country where the majority of people are Muslims with brown skin — even if they were born in Great Britain and have never even visited the other country of nationality.

On this view, stripping citizenship merely sends the targets back to where they “really” come from. Citizenship deprivation thus delivers an exclusionary message to all non-white, non-Christian British citizens that their claim to U.K. membership is permanently precarious, however small the literal risk of citizenship deprivation.

Indeed, British legal scholar John Finnis explicitly flirted with a similar idea a few years ago by proposing the “humane” expulsion of all Muslim non-citizens from Britain.

The Letts conundrum

But Letts is white, his parents are middle class and Christian in upbringing (though secular in practice). His other country of citizenship, Canada, is also predominantly white and Christian in origin.

Canada is a staunch British ally, an important diplomatic and trading partner and a G7 member. Queen Elizabeth remains the formal head of state in Canada.

The illogical underpinning of citizenship deprivation now emerges clearly, shorn of implicit appeals to racism, Islamophobia and colonial arrogance. Letts is no more or less a risk to national security in Canada than the U.K. In no sense does Letts “belong” more to Canada than to the U.K., the country where he was born, raised, and that formed him.

The world is not made safer from terrorism when the U.K. disposes of their unwanted citizens in Canada, Bangladesh or anywhere else. The very phenomenon of foreign fighters testifies to that.

Claims that “citizenship is a privilege, not a right” or that the undeserving citizen forfeits citizenship by his actions is flimsy rhetoric intended to distract from the grubby opportunism that motivates citizenship revocation.

The U.K. does this not because it enhances the value of citizenship or makes the world safer from terrorism. It does it because it can.

If the British government thinks stripping citizenship is a good way for a state to respond to the challenges of national security, it must think it’s a good idea for all states. So imagine that Canada also had a citizenship revocation law. In fact, Canada’s Conservative government did enact such a law in 2014 (inspired by the U.K.), though it was repealed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in 2017.

Here is the scenario: Letts, ISIS foreign fighter, is a citizen of the U.K. and of Canada. Neither country wants to claim him. Each has the possibility of revoking his citizenship as long as Letts is not rendered stateless.

The result?

Race to the bottom

An arbitrary race to see which country could strip his citizenship first. To the loser goes the citizen — maybe Canada, maybe the U.K.

This every-state-for-itself race to the bottom is the antithesis of co-operation in a global struggle against radicalizaton and terrorism; one need not be schooled in game theory to recognize it as counterproductive parochialism. Once states contemplate the possibility of being on the receiving end of citizenship stripping, the tactic doesn’t look quite so clever.

Until now, the U.K. has targeted individuals whose other state of nationality lacked the resources or diplomatic heft to challenge the British practice under international law. Maybe it’s time for Canada to step up, and to work with other countries, to pressure the U.K. and other states to abandon citizenship revocation as a means of disavowing “bad citizens.”

The Letts case reminds us that citizenship revocation policies can bite back. Any country that seeks to dispose of their citizens in this way may some day be a disposal site for other countries. If human rights aren’t enough of a reason to abolish citizenship revocation, and undermining global co-operation isn’t enough either, perhaps self-interest can tip the balance.

Source: ‘Jihadi Jack’ and the folly of revoking citizenship

Chris Selley: With Jihadi Jack, Britain gives Canada a taste of its own medicine

Good column by Selley. Nails country responsibility:

On Sunday we learned that Jack Letts, known in the British press as Jihadi Jack, is no longer a British subject. Then-home secretary Sajid Javid and then-prime minister Theresa May reportedly approved stripping the alleged ISIL fighter of his citizenship as one of their administration’s final acts and it seems they didn’t even send a telegram. Instead Letts was informed by an ITV News crew interviewing him at the Kurdish prison where he has been held for two-and-a-half years. Now, some fear, he will eventually wind up in Canada: He holds citizenship through his parents.

“Justin Trudeau must assure Canadians today that he isn’t trying to bring Jihadi Jack back to Canada,” Conservative public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus said in a statement, calling it “naïve and dangerous” to think “anyone who signed up to fight with ISIS can be reformed.”

Paul-Hus does not exaggerate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarkable rhetorical commitment to rehabilitating ISIL fighters. “Someone who has engaged and turned away from that hateful ideology can be an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalization in future generations and younger people within the community,” he told CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme in 2017. The Liberals didn’t just revoke the Conservative law allowing dual-citizen terrorists and traitors to be stripped of their citizenship; they made a big, principled show of it. “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Trudeau would gravely intone, explicitly asking audience members to put themselves on the same level as Zakaria Amara, the Toronto 18 ringleader who lost his citizenship under the Conservatives and got it back under the Liberals.

The talking point is altogether ridiculous — Canadian citizenship is stratified according to criteria as basic as whether it can be passed on to foreign-born children — but like it or not, it was a brave stance.

The Liberals seemed less proud of Canadian consular officials making contact with Letts, refusing to comment when CBC got hold of audio tapes and transcripts of their meetings last year. Perhaps that’s because Letts said he would be happy to relocate to a Canadian prison if it would get him out of his current accommodations. Since then, Foreign Affairs seems to have lost interest in his situation entirely. Now, weeks out from an election, the Conservatives have been served a soft-on-terror talking point on a silver platter.

This case hardly illustrates the wisdom of the Conservative and British approaches

To their credit, neither Paul-Hus nor party leader Andrew Scheer has suggested this is a legislative problem. “(Letts is) in prison now and that’s where he should stay. I won’t lift a finger to bring him back to Canada,” Scheer said in a statement on Monday. Perhaps surprisingly, Paul-Hus wouldn’t even confirm to the National Post that a Conservative government would reintroduce the citizenship revocation provision.

Conservative partisans have been more than happy to draw the link, however.

“Under Stephen Harper, dual nationals could be stripped of their Canadian citizenship if they were convicted of terrorist offences. Justin Trudeau changed that law,” the pro-Conservative advocacy group Canada Proud tweeted. “So now, Canada is stuck with this ISIS terrorist.”

Letts hasn’t been convicted of anything, but he could theoretically have lost his citizenship under a different section of the law allowing the minister to seek revocation if he “has reasonable grounds to believe that a person … served as a member of an armed force of a country or as a member of an organized armed group and that country or group was engaged in an armed conflict with Canada.”

This case hardly illustrates the wisdom of the Conservative and British approaches, however. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale quite rightly accused the Brits of attempting to “off-load their responsibilities” — Letts was born, raised, educated and lost the plot on British soil. Canada would be no better off at this point with the Conservative-era law in place: It only applied to dual citizens, and Letts is no longer one of those. From a hawk’s perspective, the best-case alternative scenario would be that we had denationalized Letts first, leaving Britain holding the bag. This would arguably be fairer, but surely a never-ending game of terrorist tag with our foreign allies — You’re it! No givebacks! — is a pretty lousy excuse for a national security strategy.

As annoyed as Canadians are right now with the prospect of helping or even housing this cretin, that’s precisely as annoyed as the Conservative legislation was sure to make other countries. That those countries might more often be Jordan or Egypt or Saudi Arabia than the United Kingdom does not redeem the exercise — rather, it raises the question of why we would want any more terrorists running around those countries instead of under close watch here at home. I happen to agree with Trudeau that dealing with our own trash is the right moral and ethical thing to do. But morals and ethics aside, purely as a practical matter, it strikes me as the only sensible approach.

Source: Chris Selley: With Jihadi Jack, Britain gives Canada a taste of its own medicine

And it appears that the Conservatives have no plans to re-introduce citizenship revocation should they win the election:

Mr. Letts’s case has refuelled a debate in Canada over dual citizens convicted of terrorism.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper passed a law in 2014 that gave Canada the power to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals who had been convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage. The Trudeau government reversed the law in 2017 after campaigning on the slogan “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

Despite Mr. Scheer’s opposition to repatriating Canadian foreign fighters, his office said the Conservatives “would not re-introduce grounds for the revocation of Canadian citizenship that relate to national security.” The Conservatives did not explain why Mr. Scheer would not reinstate the law.

Legal experts say the former law, if re-introduced, would likely lead to a legal challenge on the grounds that it would create a two-tier citizenship system.

Audrey Macklin, a law professor and chair in human-rights law at the University of Toronto, said these kinds of citizenship revocation laws encourage an “arbitrary race to see who could strip citizenship of dual nationals first.”

“It’s hard not to recall that Canada had such a law inspired by the U.K. itself but now it finds itself on the receiving end of another state’s practice. It just reminds us that this is a parochial, unhelpful, kind of grubby response,” Prof. Macklin said.

‘Naïve and dangerous’: Conservatives blast Liberal policy after U.K. strips ‘Jihadi Jack’s’ citizenship

Of the many articles on Jack Letts, I picked this one, given the Conservative’s implementation revocation provisions is C-24. During parliamentary hearings on C-24 (and the subsequent repeal under the Liberals in C-6), the risk of “beggar the neighbour” approaches between countries was raised by Audrey Macklin among others.

So no surprise that it has happened, and from an overall security perspective, offloading a suspected terrorist to another government, does not increase security. That Britain did so, when Letts only has a formal connection to Canada, having been raised and grown-up in the UK, only makes it worse.

Conservative leader Scheer did not include citizenship issues when he unveiled his immigration policy a few months ago:

The Conservatives on Sunday renewed their condemnation of the Liberal government’s position on citizenship rights for terrorists, following news that U.K. officials had stripped former ISIL member Jack Letts — known as “Jihadi Jack” — of his British citizenship.

Conservative public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus did not commit to overturning a policy introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015 that would prevent Canada from making a similar move, but said the Liberal government must fight to keep Letts out of the country. 

“The idea that anyone who signed up to fight with ISIS can be reformed is naïve and dangerous to the safety of Canadians,” Paul-Hus said in a statement on Sunday. Justin Trudeau must assure Canadians today that he isn’t trying to bring Jihadi Jack back to Canada.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Sunday confirmed reports that the United Kingdom had revoked Letts’ citizenship, saying in a written statement that Canada was “disappointed” by the move, and accusing Britain of trying to “off-load their responsibilities.”

The move means that if Letts is deported, he would become the sole responsibility of Canada.

The issue might have set off a behind-the-scenes diplomatic row between the two countries, according to media reports and private emails from Canadian consular officials unearthed by the National Post. It could also refuel debate over whether Ottawa should be allowed to revoke dual citizens of their status as Canadians if convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by British media, is being held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The longtime U.K. resident, now 24 years old, converted to Islam at a young age and eventually left the country to join the extremist organization, eventually settling in the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa. He was arrested and imprisoned in 2017.

His entire family are dual British-Canadian citizens, including his father, John Letts, who was born in Ontario, and his U.K.-born mother, Sally Lane.

In June, Letts’ parents were found guilty of funding terrorism after they wired their son money in a bid to help him escape an ISIL-controlled region of Syria.

The court heard that a member of Letts’ mosque in the U.K. had warned the parents that their son might have been radicalized, and that they should take away his passport as a way to protect him. But Letts and Lane reportedly ignored the advice and bought him a plane ticket to Jordan in 2014 for a “grand Middle East adventure,” according to one recollection of events.

According to media reports, Letts became known to authorities after a spate of violent Facebook posts, in which he said he would “happily kill each and every one” of the members of a British military regiment of which a former schoolmate was a member.

There is no clear evidence whether Letts personally carried out any violent acts during his time with ISIL.

Citing private emails from Global Affairs Canada, the National Post reported last October that Canadian consular officials had been in contact with Letts’ parents for months. The officials went as far as to discuss possible escape routes for Letts out of Syria, and assured his parents they were “working diligently on your son’s file,” according to the emails.

But their tone shifted abruptly in early 2018, the emails show, leading the family to believe that British officials had struck down those efforts behind closed doors.

The diplomatic spat could refuel a long-standing debate in Canada. Because international law prevents governments from making anyone “stateless,” only people with two passports can have their citizenship stripped.

In 2014, former prime minister Stephen Harper amended the Citizenship Act to allow Canada to strip the status of any dual citizen who is found guilty of terrorism, among other things. The Liberal government under Trudeau reversed that decision in a bill that passed through the Senate in 2017.

Some experts say efforts by Britain are counterproductive and run afoul of human rights laws.

“I think there’s a real question here as to whether Britain is violating international law by doing this, and whether Canada could seek to hold the U.K to account,” said Audrey Macklin, a human rights law professor at the University of Toronto.

Macklin said moves to render people stateless can in turn stymie efforts to snuff out terrorist organizations.

“If you are serious about global co-operation in combatting terrorism, you would realize that citizenship stripping is inimical to that,” she said. 

Trudeau is due to meet the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, at a Group of Seven meeting in France that starts on Aug. 24.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Toronto earlier this month. The two ministers discussed Letts during the visit, yesterday’s statement from Goodale’s office said.

“While we are disappointed in their decision, we do not conduct tit-for-tat diplomacy. Canada and the U.K. continue to work closely together on a number of issues, including the situation in Hong Kong,” the statement added.

Source: ‘Naïve and dangerous’: Conservatives blast Liberal policy after U.K. strips ‘Jihadi Jack’s’ citizenship

Sensible commentary by Doug Saunders:

The Easter Sunday atrocities in Sri Lanka have not only brought horror to the island’s tiny, impoverished Christian community and threatened an end to the country’s decade of unsteady peace. They’ve also struck fear in the governments and security agencies of many countries, including Canada, which have been struggling to deal with a steady trickle of their citizens seeking to return home from Syria and Iraq.

We don’t know whether reports are true that two or more of the Sri Lankan terrorists had gone to Syria to fight with the terrorist army that calls itself Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh), and returned after that organization’s self-proclaimed caliphate was crushed and defeated last year. It is clear, however, that the attacks are linked to a desire among some of that organization’s former fighters to bring revenge to their own countries.

There are currently several hundred European, U.S. and Canadian alleged IS fighters being held in northern Syria by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (the number of Canadians may be as low as 10). Whether they should be returned to their home countries is the subject of an intense international debate.

Some have suggested stripping them of their citizenship – which was a legal option, rarely if ever applied, under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government – thus making them the responsibility of some other country. Others wonder why we should be responsible for investigating and trying Canadians who allegedly have committed grave crimes abroad; in other circumstances, they’d be tried and sentenced in the place where their crimes took place.

But they are, ultimately, our problem. They aren’t foreign – almost all the Canadians accused are Canadian citizens born here to Canadian families, and their radicalization took place here, in the dark corners of Canadian society. To attempt to dump them on another country, or on a poor and struggling Kurdish-led Syrian democracy movement that has already been betrayed by Canada and its allies, would be both immoral and dangerous.

There are good reasons why nobody is eager to see them returned. The probability of any returned foreign fighter committing violence is low – a 2015 study found that only 0.2 per cent of returned fighters, or one in 500, had been charged with terrorism offences. The return of IS fighters has not produced the wave of attacks that many had anticipated. But the few who do maintain their violent commitments are noted, in the words of a study published last year by the United Nations Security Council, for their “increased lethality, both as attackers and as attack planners,” making them responsible for “some of the most lethal terrorist attacks.”

But the flaw in the citizenship-stripping approach becomes apparent when you take a close look at those who have dual citizenship, and would therefore be eligible.

Typical of them is Syrian detainee Jack Letts, who holds both Canadian and British citizenship. Neither Canada nor Britain wants him back. Political leaders in both countries have suggested revoking his citizenship – and thus dumping his case, and the considerable security and justice costs associated with his case, on the other country.

As a result, he waits in Syria. If he is guilty of atrocities or war crimes – and simply being a member of IS could qualify as one – neither country is willing to expend the investigative and judicial resources to prove it and bring him to justice. If he is innocent, as he claims, neither country is willing to try to clear him.

The Kurds have made it clear that they do not want hundreds of people such as him on their hands. Ilham Ahmed, a leader of the Kurdish-led SDF, says it is straining their resources just to hold people such as him. “We have provided the support we can by arresting them and detaining them in prisons, but who is going to take them to court?” she told the Financial Times. “Who is going to [be] carrying out the prosecution?”

Another horrific news story this month illustrated the risk of not taking these people back. Germany is currently trying a 27-year-old woman from Lower Saxony known as Jennifer W. for allegations that she, as an IS “morality policewoman” in Syria, tortured a 5-year-old Yazidi slave girl to death. Prosecutors consider themselves lucky to have found a phone containing what they say are incriminating messages.

If kept in Syria or foisted on another country, she would never have been charged. Trials such as hers are expensive, difficult and risky, but the expense is necessary, and the risk would be greater if these people were left at large. Some of them may be the world’s worst people, but they are our people. If they are truly to be brought to justice, or at least kept under watch so they pose less danger, it is far more likely to happen here.

Source: Canadian extremists returning from Syria are a big problem – but they’re our problem

Countries urged not to strip terror suspects of citizenship

More on citizenship revocation for treason or terror:

Stripping terror suspects of citizenship does not increase national security and may even make it worse, legal experts told a conference on ending statelessness.

They are particularly concerned over the increasing use of the measure by Britain which this year revoked the nationality of “jihadi bride” Shamima Begum who left London to join Islamic State in 2015 at the age of 15.

Britain is also considering the case of British-Canadian Muslim convert Jack Letts who joined ISIS as a teenager and is now being held in a Kurdish-run jail in northern Syria.

“Stripping nationality is a completely ineffective measure – and an arbitrary measure,” said Amal de Chickera, co-founder of the Institute on Statelessness, which is hosting the conference in The Hague.

He said countries should retain responsibility for nationals accused of supporting ISIS and ensure they are prosecuted.

“Stripping nationality when people are abroad merely exports the problem to other countries,” he said, adding such measures were also likely to have a serious impact on families back home.

Countries should recognize that women married to ISIS fighters, and their children, may have been victimized, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

The conference heard that Britain stripped nationality from more than 100 people in 2017, compared to a total of 12 people between 1950 and 2002, but most cases were done quietly.

De Chickera said it was crucial that all countries’ counterterrorism policies should not result in more people becoming stateless – which means someone is not recognized as a national by any country in the world.

To avoid making people stateless, Britain has focused on dual nationals.

But Audrey Macklin, a human rights law professor at the University of Toronto, said if all countries had laws to revoke citizenship from dual nationals then you would get a race to see who could do it first “and to the loser goes the citizen.”

“Is this a policy that makes sense as a global practice directed at making the world more secure, at reducing the risk of terrorism? To my mind, not so much,” she said.

She said citizenship was a right rather than a privilege and described citizenship deprivation followed by expulsion as the “political equivalent of the death penalty.”

The conference comes midway through a UN campaign to end statelessness in a decade. An estimated 10 to 15 million people are stateless worldwide, often deprived of basic rights.

Jawad Fairooz, a former Bahraini MP who was rendered stateless after being stripped of his nationality in 2012, said revoking citizenship should never be used as a political tool or a punishment.

Bahrain has stripped hundreds of people of nationality since a 2011 uprising although many have since regained citizenship.

“If you lose [citizenship], you lose the rest of your rights,” said Fairooz, chairman of Salam for Democracy & Human Rights.

“If you are born in a country and serve the country and you [are] part of it and quite suddenly your name is deleted from that country it is really heartbreaking.”

Source: Countries urged not to strip terror suspects of citizenship

Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Shamima Begum of her citizenship questioned by one of UK’s most senior judges

On the statelessness aspect:

One of Britain’s most senior judges has called into question Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Isil bride Shamima Begum of her British citizenship.

Jonathan Sumption, who retired as a justice of the Supreme Court in December, indicated that the Home Secretary may have breached international law by effectively making Ms Begum stateless.

Mr Javid claimed that Begum, 19, whose parents came to the UK from Bangladesh, was a Bangladeshi citizen under that country’s law even though she had never been to Bangladesh.

This meant he could remove her British citizenship without making her stateless.

Speaking on the BBC’s Reith Lecture today, however, Lord Sumption said: “I am frankly surprised at the suggestion that she can be regarded as the citizen of a country with which she has never had anything to do but that is the Government’s position and I have no doubt it will be tested in the courts in due course.”

The Bangladesh Government has rejected the British claim that she is a Bangladesh citizen and said it would refuse to accept her, although its nationality laws do include a right of “citizenship by descent” to anyone who is born to a Bangladeshi parent.

This right only lapses when a person reaches the age of 21.

Lawyers for Begum, who fled London to join Isil in Syria and married an Isis fighter with whom she had three babies, all of whom died, are however appealing the Home Secretary’s decision.

Asked if the removal of citizenship also meant a person lost their standing under human rights, Lord Sumption said: “What they lose is their citizenship. That doesn’t necessarily deprive them of their standing when it comes to human rights.

“I have no problem with the notion of depriving people of their citizenship who have gone abroad to fight in foreign wars save this.

“It’s an established principle of international law that you cannot deprive somebody of his or her citizenship if the result would be to render them stateless.

“And whatever they may have done in Syria or anywhere else, that rule has always been applied and will no doubt be applied in this case.”

Source: Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Shamima Begum of her citizenship questioned by one of UK’s most senior judges

Qatar Arbitrarily Revoked a Dissident Qatari Clan’s Citizenship

More on citizenship stripping in Qatar:

A bombshell report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges that Qatar arbitrarily stripped the citizenship of thousands of members of the large Ghufran clan, and that though citizenship has been restored to many, dozens are left stateless with no clear recourse.

Qatar’s move to revoke the citizenship of members of the Ghufran clan came after members of that clan, itself a small part of the larger, semi-nomadic al-Murrah tribe, backed a botched coup attempt in 1996. In the years since, Ghufran members’ citizenship were steadily stripped from them. HRW has found 28 former Qatari citizens who remain stateless and unable to access basic services or see their rights protected.

Throughout the Middle East, states have granted and revoked citizenship status for political reasons.

Israel offered citizenship to Syrian Druze living in the dospited Golan Heights after Israel invaded and claimed the region from Syria during the 1967 war. In April 2019, Bahrain stripped the citizenship of over 130 people alleged to have taken part in 2011 protests. In 2014, Kuwait revoked dozens of dissidents’ citizenships in several waves, reinstating only ten in 2018.

The opaque process under which Qatar decides who gains and loses citizenship has come under fire by HRW, who call it ‘arbitrary.’

An Arbitrary Process

“I have no property in my name, no house, no income, no health card, I can’t even open a bank account, it’s like I don’t even exist.”

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (AFP/FILE)

“The restoration of citizenship appears to be taking place in as arbitrary a manner as the revocation of citizenship,” Hiba Zayadin, a HRW researcher focused on the Gulf, told Al Bawaba.

“In the 20 years since the state of Qatar began to target families from the Ghufran clan, it has not provided any comprehensive or transparent information on how many people it arbitrarily stripped of citizenship, how that process was carried out, or how people could go about seeking to restore their citizenship,” she said, adding that nobody knows with any certainty how many people remain stateless as a result of Qatar’s decision.

Though Qatar has not publicly stated its motivations behind the mass move to revoke Ghufran clansmen’s citizenships, members of the clan suspect it is linked to their involvement in the failed 1996 coup attempt.

In Feb 1996, an internal plan by members of Qatar’s ruling al-Thani party, to overthrow Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was stopped before it could get underway. Almost immediately, members of the Ghufran clan were suspected to have taken part in the conspiracy, and Qatar began revoking their citizenship en masse. The process appears to have continued well into the 2000s, leaving thousands of Ghufran clansmen stateless; many were forced to acquire citizenship in neighboring countries.

Most citizenship claims have since been restored, but HRW documented dozens of former Qatari Ghufran members who remain in a virtual limbo, without access to basic rights protections or services.

“I have no property in my name, no house, no income, no health card, I can’t even open a bank account, it’s like I don’t even exist,” a 56 year-old man, whose citizenship was revoked in 2004, told HRW.

“When I get sick [instead of going to a doctor or hospital] I take Panadol [a non-prescription painkiller] and hope for the best.” According to the report, his five children’s citizenships were also revoked.

Another interviewee described that in a world where one’s well-being is entirely determined by citizenship status, being stateless means he has had to rely on others’ charity for over 20 years. “We live in suffering because we are stateless,” he said. “If we remain this way, we will have no future.”

Without a legal claim to citizenship within Qatar, those interviewed have no access to Qatar’s public or private schools and universities. They cannot legally work and have had difficulty accessing Qatar’s health care system.

Many cannot leave the country and are routinely stopped by police. Once stopped, they cannot provide a valid Qatari identity card, so they are detained and have to be bailed out. One 58 year-old interviewed has been stuck in Saudi Arabia as she waits to get a Saudi passport. Until then, she cannot even travel anywhere within Saudi.

“The most difficult thing for me is that I can’t visit my family in Qatar. I miss visiting home, I miss al-Wakrah, al-Rayyan, the corniche, the sea. I missed my nephew’s wedding and many other family events. There are some loved ones that I haven’t seen since the day I was stripped of citizenship,” she said.

No Clear Path Forward 

“Interviewees said they never received any formal or written communication informing them of the decision.”

A delegation from the Ghufran clan at the U.N. (Ghufran clan/Arab News)

Though Bahrain and Kuwait stripped some of their dissidents’ citizenship in a similar manner to Qatar, Hiba Zayadin of HRW said Qatar’s handling of the manner stands out. In both Bahrain and Kuwait’s case, “often the government either announces the citizenship revocations or formally informs those being targeted and refers to court decisions, decrees, or executive orders calling for the stripping of citizenship.”

“In the case of members of the Ghufran,” she said, “the Qatari government did not make public any decree mandating the stripping of citizenship and in the cases Human Rights Watch documented, interviewees said they never received any formal or written communication informing them of the decision.”

Because the process has been kept from public view, there are no clear venues for the stateless to appeal the revocation. For the time being, they are stuck without citizenship.

The report itself details the futile attempts of the stateless members of the Ghufran clan to reach out to Qatar’s Interior Ministry only to be met with radio silence.

When asked if there was any feasible way those stateless could regain their Qatari citizenship, Zayadin of HRW recommended that the international community step in and speak on their behalf in order to try and pressure Qatar to re-integrate them.

In other words, the fate of the remaining stateless Ghufran clanspeople rests in the hands of external state delegations who may simply forgo pressuring Qatar if it is deemed too politically risky or extraneous.

In Sep 2018, members of the Ghufran clan staged a sit-in outside the U.N.’s headquarters in Geneva to demand the reinstatement of clansmen’s’ citizenships.

Source: Qatar Arbitrarily Revoked a Dissident Qatari Clan’s Citizenship