Cyprus to strip 26 ‘golden’ passports given to investors

Welcome move but one just highlights yet again the potential for abuse and fraud:

Cyprus said on Wednesday that it had started a process to strip 26 individuals of citizenship they received under a secretive passports-for-investment scheme, admitting it had flaws.

The Mediterranean island has been rattled by disclosures of its investments scheme since Reuters reported last month a list of Cambodian beneficiaries, including its police chief and finance minister.

“The council of ministers today affirmed the will of the government for strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Cyprus investment programme,” the Cypriot interior minister, Constantinos Petrides, told reporters after a four-hour cabinet meeting.

Petrides did not disclose nationalities or identities of those affected, but said it “also concerned those” whose names were mentioned in media reports.

Cypriot sources said the group included nine Russians, eight Cambodians, five Chinese nationals, two Kenyans, one Malaysian and one Iranian.

They involved nine investment projects, whereby groups of foreign investors in partnership can benefit from the scheme.

Cyprus has had a citizenship for investment plan in place since 2013, under which a minimum 2 million-euro ($2.2 million) investment can buy a passport and visa-free travel throughout the European Union.

Advertising the scheme is now banned, but at least one law office used to distribute pamphlets resembling passports to visitors at the island’s main airport.

Authorities said the programme had gone through several transformations, and was overhauled in February 2019 with five different due-diligence layers, compared with one in 2013.

In the five years from the beginning of the citizenship scheme to 2018, the Cypriot government approved 1,864 citizenship applications. Including family members, the number was more than 3,200, and is close to 4,000 today.

“If there were nine investment cases, concerning 26 people, among 4,000 applications, it is logical that some would be problematic when controls weren’t strict,” Petrides said. “There were mistakes – it was a mistake not to have criteria, for instance, for high-risk persons.”

The Reuters investigation showed that influential police, business and political associates of Cambodia’s long-time ruler, the prime minister Hun Sen, had overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars.

Hun has previously denied opposition allegations that members of his inner circle had other passports and lived the high life overseas. Some 70 percent of Cambodians live on $3 a day, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Petrides, whose ministry signs off on passport applications, said the individuals concerned had the right to appeal.

Source: Cyprus to strip 26 ‘golden’ passports given to investors

Sheryl Saperia: The case for revoking citizenship

The alternate view to that expressed by Chris Selley a number of weeks ago (Actually, my citizenship is a right | National Post)  by Sheryl Saperia is Director of Policy for Canada at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)

Bill C-24 makes ordinary Canadians safer by adding a new layer of deterrence against engaging in terrorism, treason and armed conflict with Canada; facilitating the removal of people who pose a threat not only to Canada, but to the vulnerable individuals in our society susceptible to radicalization; and removing the coveted Canadian passport from those who would use it as a tool to support or carry out terrorist attacks.

Sheryl Saperia: The case for revoking citizenship | National Post.

Citizenship Act Revocation: Commentary

Strong commentary on both sides of the political spectrum on the revocation and related provisions of the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act, starting with Chris Selley of the National Post:

Grown-up countries clean up their own messes. You don’t “strengthen Canadian citizenship,” as Bill C-24 purports to, by making it easier to revoke, by kicking your junk into another country’s closet. You strengthen Canadian citizenship by holding wayward or treasonous citizens to account, and by demanding fair and equal treatment for even the most unpopular, thereby reinforcing the obligations they violated. Mr. Khadr’s case showed us how far Canada has to go. The Conservatives propose to take us even further in the wrong direction.

Chris Selley: Actually, my citizenship is a right | National Post.

Audrey Macklin and Lorne Waldman of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, in addition to their previous criticism of the revocation provisions, note additional problems with differential treatment of Canadian-born vs naturalized Canadians:

The provision also holds out the implicit threat that if a naturalized Canadian citizen takes up a job somewhere else (as many Canadians do), or leaves Canada to study abroad (as many Canadians do), the government may move to strip the person of citizenship because they misrepresented their intention to reside in Canada when they were granted citizenship. Whether the government acts on the threat is not the issue; it is enough that people will be made insecure and apprehensive by the possibility that the government may arbitrarily decide to launch revocation proceedings against them if they leave Canada too soon, or remain away too long. That’s not a way to foster a citizenship of commitment. That’s how to foster a citizenship of fear.

I had viewed this provision as more symbolic than enforceable, but Macklin and Waldman have a point as this could be deemed fraud should a naturalized citizen leave Canada for professional or personal reasons. CIC may not today be able to enforce such a provision. However, as the government implements its plans for exit controls, this may change. As many Canadians, both naturally-born and naturalized, live abroad, often for reasons that most would consider valid (i.e., not just “citizens of convenience”), this provision bears greater scrutiny.

Citizenship reforms a serious threat to rights of all Canadians

Lastly, a reminder that not all share this concern. Kevin Hampson in the Mayerthorpe Freelancer, strongly supports the revocation measures:

Being Canadian is a privilege, not a right—that’s the message. Those are much better terms on which to welcome newcomers.

Finally, despite the Toronto Star’s alarmism, it is just and proper to strip citizenship from people who engage in terrorism. Thomas Walkom’s characterization of this view as “radical” shows the extent of his esteem for Canadian citizenship.

Walkom suggests that thousands of Canadians could have their citizenship revoked. Here’s a tip: don’t want to lose your citizenship? Don’t become a terrorist.

“Yesterday’s terrorist can be tomorrow’s hero,” Walkom shrugs. To which we reply: If Canada in the future celebrates Islamic terrorists as heroes, Walkom will have worse things to worry about than Bill C-24.

Canada’s new Citizenship Act is long overdue

Still haven’t seen much commentary in French language media. Will also be interesting to see how ethnic press covers this (how I miss the ethnic media press scan at CIC).

UK: Don’t trust the government’s citizenship-stripping policy

Commentary on the UK citizenship revocation policy with respect to persons suspected of terrorist offences or other serious international crimes. While not sympathetic to most of his arguments, I share his concern over due process and the risks of giving Ministers too much discretionary power. As Canada prepares for similar legislation, we will see how the Canadian government balances the ability to revoke citizenship (the current process is unworkable) with  necessary process safeguards.

A different concern is that denaturalisation laws like the ones active in the UK are simply arbitrary, and for that reason unjust. Our legislation does not require that an individual be convicted of a crime in a court of law; indeed, one of the attractions of the current legislation for British governments is that it allows the home secretary to get rid of individuals without going through the difficult process of providing the evidence necessary for criminal conviction. To be sure, there is a statutory right of appeal, but given that most Britons are stripped of their citizenship when outside the UK, the chances for an effective appeal are minimal. Current laws define the grounds for deprivation so broadly that a successful appeal on the merits of a decision is highly unlikely.

If these moral concerns about stripping of citizenship fail to convince, there is one final and compelling reason why we should look askance at this power. Even if depriving dangerous individuals of their citizenship can be right in principle, can we really trust governments to use such a power prudently in practice? I think not.

Don’t trust the government’s citizenship-stripping policy.

Australians fighting in Syria could lose citizenship, Scott Morrison signals | World news | theguardian.com

Further to similar British measures (British fighters in Syria stripped of UK citizenship), appears that Australia is also considering similar measures. Given upcoming changes to The Canadian Citizenship Act, this may be something that we may see in Canada as well:

Australia, the minister said, had powers to stop potential combatants leaving Australia through the cancellation of travel documents, but added the Australian government lacked the British government’s more wide-ranging powers under the citizenship act. In the UK, the home secretary can strip dual nationals of their British citizenship if it has been obtained fraudulently, or if citizenship is not in the public interest.

“We are looking right now at all the options that are before us to strengthen powers when necessary,” Morrison told 2GB on Monday. “We are looking at every option available to us. We don’t want those troubles in this country and people who bring them here should not come.”

Referring explicitly to the revocation of Australian citizenship for dual nationals, Morrison said the Australian government would “definitely want to have things of that order to enable you to protect the country from the incursion of that sort of violent and unhelpful views”.

“You want to arm yourself with all the necessary powers to deal with what is a very serious threat to Australia if people come here and seek to stir up trouble,” the minister said. “The Abbott government is pretty clear: we are not going to put up with this sort of thing.”

Australians fighting in Syria could lose citizenship, Scott Morrison signals | World news | theguardian.com.

British fighters in Syria stripped of UK citizenship | Al Bawaba

While revocation of citizenship is understandable under such circumstances, the question arises about due process given the apparently high level of Ministerial discretion.

Will be interesting to see if any similar provisions make it into the proposed changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act.

British fighters in Syria stripped of UK citizenship | Al Bawaba.

Kenney seeks to broaden bill to strip citizenship

More comments, no draft text yet. Kenney seeks to broaden bill to strip citizenship.

Chris Hall: The slippery slope of revoking citizenship – Politics – CBC News

Chris Hall: The slippery slope of revoking citizenship – Politics – CBC News.

Abolishing dual citizenship best way to deal with divided loyalties | Full Comment | National Post

Abolishing dual citizenship best way to deal with divided loyalties | Full Comment | National Post.

Canada eyes revoking citizenship of dual nationals tied to terror | Reuters

Canada eyes revoking citizenship of dual nationals tied to terror | Reuters.