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

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