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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of note:

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

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

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

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

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

ICYMI: Revoking citizenship just global NIMBYism

Good commentary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Revoking citizenship just global NIMBYism

New Zealand, Australia in rare row over Islamic State militant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Egypt: Activist Stripped of Citizenship @HRW

Of note:

The Egyptian government should reverse its arbitrary and abusive decision, made in December 2020, to revoke the citizenship of political activist Ghada Naguib, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Parliament should amend abusive citizenship laws so that they comply with Egypt’s international human rights obligations.

On December 24, 2020, Egypt’s Official Gazette published the government’s decision, signed by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly, to strip Naguib, who lives abroad, of her Egyptian nationality. The action is based on the Law 26 of 1975, which gives the government the power to do so without judicial review.

“Egypt’s decision to revoke Ghada Naguib’s citizenship is a shocking and dangerous precedent,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Egyptian authorities are stooping to a new low in punishing dissent.”

Naguib, 49, is a political activist who has lived in Turkey since late 2015 with her family. Law 26 of 1975 Regarding Egyptian Nationality is subject to abuse as it gives authorities great discretion, without legal oversight or court review, in stripping Egyptians of their nationality.

Under article 16, the prime minister can strip anyone, whether born Egyptian or naturalized, of their Egyptian nationality for several reasons, including if they “maintain normal [i.e., permanent] residence abroad and are convicted of a felony that harms state security from abroad.” That paragraph was cited in the government’s decision against Naguib.

Article 15 of the same law gives the government even wider powers to strip the nationality of those who acquired citizenship through naturalization.

The government decision notes that Naguib was born in Cairo, but falsely claims that she was “originally Syrian.” Naguib shared identification and school documents with Human Rights Watch that confirm she is Egyptian and was born in Cairo, where she grew up and went to school. She lived most of her life in Egypt and has never lived in Syria. She was born to an Egyptian mother and a Syrian father but has only had an Egyptian passport.

The government and pro-government media have frequently targeted Naguib and her husband, Hisham Abdallah, an Egyptian actor and TV host, because of their opposition activities since late 2013.

Human Rights Watch previously documented that the government harassed, intimidated, and arrested members of their families in Egypt in July and August 2018. In January 2019, a Giza criminal court for “terrorism” and “state security” cases sentenced Naguib and Abdallah to five years in prison, in absentia, in a mass trial of over 25 defendants in what is known as the “Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) media” case (Supreme State Security Case 1102 of 2017), on charges of joining an illegal organization and disseminating false news to undermine national security.

Human Rights Watch reviewed the court verdict, which shows the entire case was based on National Security officers’ allegations about the defendants’ peaceful political activities. The security officers accused the couple of plotting to overthrow the government through media, political, and human rights work.

The charges contravene basic rights, including freedom of association and free speech. The court convictions should be annulled, Human Rights Watch said.

In mid-December 2020, security forces arrested five of Hisham Abdallah’s nephews from Marsa Matrouh and Kafer al-Sheikh governorates. They were missing for two days. On December 23, the State Security Prosecution ordered all five detained pending an investigation on accusations of joining and financing a terrorist organization.

Human Rights Watch has documented an escalating pattern of the government harassing, arresting, and prosecuting relatives of dissidents abroad.

Naguib told Human Rights Watch that she was not able to immediately hire a lawyer to appeal the government’s decision in Egypt. She said that the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul has repeatedly refused to provide her with consular services.

Since 2014, President al-Sisi’s government has invoked article 15 of the nationality law to strip Egyptian nationality from dozens, most likely hundreds, of people, the majority of whom were born to Palestinian fathers and Egyptian mothers and naturalized.

In 2004, Egypt amended its nationality law to rectify discrimination against women by allowing children born to Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers to be granted Egyptian nationality like children of Egyptian men. Those born before the 2004 amendment had to file requests for naturalization, which the Interior Ministry regularly denied.

Following the 2011 uprising, the government granted many of those people Egyptian nationality, but following the 2013 military coup the government stripped the nationality of many of those naturalized in 2011 and 2012.

Additionally, Human Rights Watch is aware of several cases in which authorities stripped Egyptians born in Egypt to Egyptian parents of their nationality, particularly Egyptian men and women married to Palestinians, Israelis, or Palestinian-Israelis.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” Egypt’s nationality laws contravene international law on the right to nationality. The 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination obliges states in article 5 to “guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law,” notably in the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including “the right to nationality.” The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women also calls for states to grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children. The UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessnessgoes further in article 9, which states that governments “may not deprive any person or group of persons of their nationality on racial, ethnic, religious or political grounds.”

The UN Human Rights Council has said in several resolutions that the arbitrary deprivation of nationality, including on political grounds, is “a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms” and that governments use it to deprive people of basic human rights.

“The Egyptian government seems intent on stripping nationality of mostly those born to Egyptian mothers and foreign national fathers and in doing so, discriminating against women and their children,” Stork said. “Egyptian authorities should immediately restore Ghada Naguib’s citizenship and stop using the nationality issue as a weapon to silence political critics.”

Source: Egypt: Activist Stripped of Citizenship

Egyptians in exile fear losing citizenship

Of note:

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly recently issued a decision to revoke the nationality of Ghada Naguib, an opposition political activist and the wife of well-known artist Hisham Abdallah, both of whom have lived in Turkey for several years.

The decision, published in the official gazette Dec. 24, reads that Naguib’s Egyptian nationality was withdrawn based on the grounds that she was convicted of a felony to harm the Egyptian state’s security while residing abroad. The decision also stated that Naguib is a Syrian national.

Naguib left the country in January 2016 along with her husband, who works as a TV host at the Egyptian opposition al-Sharq channel in Turkey, after Abdallah was accused of a number of political issues. They have been residing in Istanbul since then.

Speaking to Al-Monitor virtually, Naguib rejected the decision to revoke her nationality, saying it is a mere political decision that will not make her a non-Egyptian citizen, adding that she will continue to oppose the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Commenting on the claims of being a Syrian national, Naguib said, “It is not true that I hold Syrian citizenship. It is true, however, that I have Syrian origins. But the only citizenship I hold is the Egyptian one.” Naguib added that the decision to strip her of her nationality, which rendered her stateless, took her by surprise, saying it is designed to terrify her and any other Egyptian opposition activist.

Meanwhile, other Egyptian opposition activists fear their nationality will be revoked in light of a lawsuit brought before the State Council, which is Egypt’s highest judicial authority that rules on administrative matters.

On June 20, the Administrative Judicial Court of the State Council decided to delay the lawsuit filed by Samir Sabry, a lawyer known for his support of Sisi’s regime. The lawsuit calls for the withdrawal of the nationality of 11 Muslim Brotherhood officials and journalists residing in Turkey over terrorism charges. A date for a court session to decide on whether to move forward with the lawsuit will be decided after the court’s expert committee gives its opinion on the case. If accepted, the lawsuit would entail the withdrawal of the nationality of all those involved in the case.

The lawsuit involves journalists, former ministers and senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders. These are, namely, Moataz Matar, Mohammad Nasser, Hussam Shorbaji, Hamza Zawbaa, Medhat al-Haddad, Ayman Nour, Mahmoud Ezzat, Mohammad Abdel Azim al-Bashlawi, Ayman Ahmed Abdel Ghani and Abdel Aziz Mohamed Abdel Aziz, as well as Yehia Hamid, the former investment minister in the Brotherhood government.

In September 2017, Egypt’s government approved new amendments to the Egyptian nationality law, expanding the government’s ability to issue decisions stripping citizenship. One of the amended articles allows the government to revoke the citizenship of those convicted of belonging to a group seeking to harm the public order, or undermine the states’ social, economic or political regime by force, or any other illegal means. And that also includes any association, party, organization, gang, or any other entity regardless of its legal status, form or nature, and regardless of whether or not it is based in Egypt, with the same goal.

A human rights lawyer residing in Egypt told Al-Monitor that amendments to the Egyptian nationality law “point to the Egyptian regime’s desire to terrify the opposition whether inside or outside Egypt, and to threaten them of stripping them from citizenship if they oppose the regime.”

The source added, “These amendments are authoritarian. They could result in tens of thousands of Egyptians in prisons or at risk of losing their citizenship. It only requires a court ruling convicting a person of being affiliated with any political group. Thus, it would be easy to issue a decision to withdraw citizenship from that person without even having to wait for the appeal against the court ruling, although the appeal could acquit that person.”

The source believes the regime’s goal in revoking Naguib’s citizenship is to test the waters before similar decisions are issued against other opposition activists living abroad. If no reactions are observed, it will be possible to see similar decisions against tens of thousands without any deterrent, he added.

Source: Egyptians in exile fear losing citizenship

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