New citizenship deprivation [revocation] rules in the wake of Paris attacks

Good update of citizenship revocation measures:

The terrorist attacks that happened in Paris on 13 November 2015 have been followed by a toughening of citizenship rules in a number of countries. This is reflected in both a more cautious approach to naturalisation and in proposals to withdraw or deny citizenship to suspects of terrorism (and occasionally to their families).

Increased security concerns adversely affected the Italian attempts to introduce ius soli temperato (moderated ius soli) for second generation migrants. Moderated ius soli would allow children born to foreign nationals in possession of a European Union Long Term Residence Permit to acquire Italian nationality by registration before the eighteenth birthday.

Yet considerably more countries have proposed, and some have already adopted, provisions on grounds of which suspects of terrorism would be deprived of their citizenship.

Three days after the attacks in Paris, speaking at a joint session of both houses of the French parliament, the country’s President François Hollande  proposed citizenship deprivation for dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism.

On 22 November 2015, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put forward a motion to allow the country’s government to withdraw citizenship of those who join the Islamic State.

In early December, the authorities of Dagestan, a Russian federal unit located in the North Caucasus, proposed to the Russian Duma to amend the country’s citizenship law to deprive of citizenship those who ‘left Russia to take part in terrorist activities’.

Similar initiative has also resonated in the Belgian public discourse, where he Flemish nationalist party NVA, argues for amendments to citizenship law to allow the deprivation of nationality to descendants of Belgian citizens (second and third generations) convicted of terrorism. The current citizenship legislation allows withdrawal of citizenship, but only for those who are not born Belgians, or who have acquired citizenship by naturalisation.

Two countries, Australia and Azerbaijan have already amended their legislation in this regard.

Australia has moved to strip dual nationals who ‘have fought in government-designated militant groups or engaged in activities that would support terrorism, such as training, recruitment, or making donations’ already in June 2015 when it adopted the Allegiance to Australia bill. In December 2015, the bill was amended and leads to automatic loss of Australian citizenship for individuals suspected of terrorism who are 14 years or older, even in the absence of conviction. Under the new provisions, citizenship lost on grounds of sections 33AA and 35 cannot be regained. Civil society organisations consider this a controversial and possibly unconstitutional move that creates two classes of citizenship.

The parliament of Azerbaijan amended the country’s s citizenship law on 4 December to withdraw citizenship of those ‘involved in terrorist activity and actions aimed at the violent change of the constitutional system of Azerbaijan’. Under the new rules, such individuals will be automatically deprived of Azerbaijani citizenship.

For more details on the current and past citizenship laws of Italy, France, Belgium and Russia consult our country profile pages.


European Union Democracy Observatory on #Citizenship Revocation Workshop papers

An extensive series of papers on the issue of citizenship revocation and banishment. For the cognoscenti given the amount of the material.

Audrey Macklin’s rebuttal of those advocating revocation (Kay HailbronnerChristian Joppke and Peter Schuck) is, no surprise to those who follow my blog, convincing:

Ultimately, arguments about citizenship revocation turn on underlying conceptions of what citizenship is for, and expectations about what citizenship as legal status can achieve. Citizenship signifies membership, but beyond that general descriptor, citizenship inhabits multiple registers across many disciplines which are not reducible to or fully commensurate with one another. Citizenship as legal status is powerful because it carries the force of law, but also limited in what it can achieve for precisely the same reason. It is enabled and constrained because it is citizenship law and because it is citizenship law.

States can and do use law to promote and endorse commitment, patriotism and active citizenship. They do it through public education, programmes for social inclusion, support and assistance, support for the arts and recreation, and other policies that build solidarity and encourage ‘good citizenship’. These various spheres of public activity are enabled through legal frameworks, and so law plays an important role here. Citizenship law’s chief constructive contribution lies in imposing (reasonable) requirements for naturalisation (such as residence and language acquisition) that genuinely facilitate integration and commitment to the national community.

The state must also be concerned about ‘bad citizenship’ and it falls to the criminal justice and national security regimes to address the most egregious conduct that endangers or harms the national community. To conclude that contemporary citizenship law is ill-suited to advancing punitive goals does not deny that some people are very bad citizens, or that law plays a crucial role in addressing that fact. It simply opposes the recruitment of citizenship law to punish bad citizens by demoting them to non-citizens[9]. A man who attacks his mother may be a terrible son who deserves to be prosecuted for his crime, but it is not the job of family law to disclaim him as the son of his mother. Citizenship law is not criminal law. Nor is it national security law. Nor should it be rigged to open up a trap door that shunts citizens to immigration law.

Accounting for citizenship status’ specific legal character also guides us toward what law can (and cannot) achieve. A number of plausible accounts of citizenship’s normative foundation circulate in political theory. They typically involve some idea of commitment or allegiance, whether to the state, the constitution, or democratic self-government. I do not here express a preference among them, but rather observe that they tend to focus on the internal relationship between state and citizen, and the grounds upon which the relationship may be properly said to have ruptured. They do not attend to the external dimension of legal citizenship, namely the role of nationality in stabilising the international filing system for humanity, and they do not furnish a satisfactory normative explanation for why the ‘bad citizen’ should be assigned to another state.

Citizenship law cannot subject to legal regulation the myriad values, practices and aspirations ascribed to citizenship-as-belonging. This is unsurprising: Citizenship status enfranchises citizens above the age of majority, but there is no legal compulsion to vote (except in Australia. Belgium, Brazil and a few other states) and citizenship law does not purport to penalise those who never exercise their right or duty of active citizenship. Citizenship law does not purport to regulate access to most types of civil and social citizenship (in Marshallian terms).

Nevertheless, defenders of revocation insist that citizenship law can and should regulate ‘loyalty and allegiance’ of citizens. The criminal law can punish people for intentionally committing wrongful acts, including treason, murder, and all other forms of horrific violence that concern us here. Some assailants may openly express contempt for their country of citizenship, while others (like the Ottawa shooter Joppke cites) display a messy history of mental illness and petty criminality preceding recent conversion to Islam. The putative value added by citizenship revocation is precisely that it makes lack of allegiance and loyalty the central element in defining crimes against citizenship. But to paraphrase Aldous Huxley, loyalty and allegiance are like happiness. They are byproducts of other activities. Fostering love of country is a valid aspiration of states and worth cultivating. But it cannot be manufactured by the carrot of a citizenship oath (as Joppke has elsewhere acknowledged), nor will it be conjured by the stick of revocation. Law is not adept at producing sentiment on command.

Space constraints have led me to focus on those submissions that directly challenge my own position, and I have not responded to the cogent, provocative and creative insights offered by so many contributors. My own thinking has been deepened and provoked by them, for which I express gratitude and appreciation. I admit that I took as my remit citizenship revocation only in the literal, legal sense. I also acknowledge the criticism that confining my focus to citizenship revocation does not pay due regard to the claim that deportation of non-citizens may also constitute banishment in some circumstances, with attendant human rights implications. I hope that nothing I have said here gives the appearance of foreclosing or prejudging broader or different conceptions of banishment. There is always more to be said, and much to be done.


EU Observatory on Democracy (EUDO) Citizenship Report

The latest EU Observatory on Democracy (EUDO) reports on citizenship and immigrant integration. Wealth of information for the cognoscenti, and some good comparative tables in the exec summary: