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

Australia: Life in limbo: the Manus babies who face a stateless future

Ongoing issue:

The children of Manus Island refugees and local women are being denied birth certificates, according to their families, potentially leaving up to 39 of them stateless.

A number of refugee men detained in the Australian-run Manus Island regional processing centre and Papua New Guinean women started relationships as early as 2015, with some children born shortly after. The regional processing centre was shut down in 2017 but at least 750 refugee and asylum seeker men remain in the country, with 580 of those on Manus Island, according to UN high commissioner for refugees estimates from July.

“I just want a marriage certificate for my wife and I, birth certificates for our two babies, citizenship and an area where we can live,” Haroon Rashid, a 27-year-old Rohingyan refugee, says.

Rashid fled Myanmar because of ethnic cleansing by government forces and arrived in PNG in 2013. The following year he was found to be a refugee and married a 22-year-old Manusian woman, Molly Noan.

The couple says provincial authorities have refused to issue birth certificates for their two-year-old son, Mohammed, and 17-month-old daughter, Almeera.

In 2016, after their eldest child was born, they asked the Manus Island provincial administrator for documents but were told to get confirmation from the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority.

But the authority told the couple it was not its responsibility and referred the matter back to the Manus Island provincial government.

Rashid and Noan have given up trying to get these documents owing to what they say are continual delays and refusals. “Our marriage and life is aimless and our destiny is uncertain without him being a citizen,” Noan says.

The future remains unknown for these refugee and asylum seeker men without PNG citizenship, while others face a long wait for resettlement in third countries. Now their children face a risk of statelessness too, as they lack birth certificates to prove they were born and registered in PNG.

Experts warn that the denial of birth certificates violates the children’s international legal right to be registered immediately after birth.

“Denial of birth certificates is the first step to statelessness,” says Prof Hélène Lambert, an expert in international refugee law at the University of Wollongong.

She warns that the children could become exposed to further human rights violations that flow on from a lack of proper documentation: “This could result in a whole range of social, economic, civil and political rights being denied.”


“Lack of birth registration can create a risk of statelessness, which is heightened in certain circumstances where a child is born to migrant or refugee parents, or belongs to a minority community that struggles to have its ties to the state recognised,” she says.


The Australian government has refused to confirm reports that the children of refugee men and local woman have been denied birth certificates. “This is a matter for the government of PNG,” a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said in a one-sentence statement.

Source: Life in limbo: the Manus babies who face a stateless future

Civil genocide: Why threats to citizenship must not be ignored

While the term genocide should not be invoked here, the fundamental point regarding citizenship rights being under threat in a number of countries is correct:

It’s hard to imagine that something as integral to our identity as our nationality could be taken from us at the stroke of a legislator’s pen or the bang of a judge’s gavelFive years ago today, families across the Dominican Republic woke up to the news that they had lost their citizenship overnight. On 23 September 2013, the country’s Constitutional Court passed a ruling that stripped nationality from tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent. Long-standing stigma and discrimination against this population had devolved into their complete exclusion from the political community. It has been described as a “civil genocide”.

It’s hard to imagine that something as integral to our identity as our nationality could be taken from us at the stroke of a legislator’s pen or the bang of a judge’s gavel. Yet history is littered with examples. Russian exiles under the Soviet laws of the 1920s, Jews under the Reich citizenship laws enacted by Nazi Germany in the 1930-40s, Kurds in Syria under the “Arabisation” policy of the 1960s, Rohingya in Myanmar after the passing of an ethnicity-based citizenship law in the 1980s, and the list continues. Today, there are an estimated 15 million stateless people in the world – individuals and communities who are not recognized as citizens by any country.

Coming just as the international community was increasing its efforts to address statelessness, the Dominican Constitutional Court decision drew significant attention. Rosa, a lawyer and activist for the rights of Dominicans of Haitian Descent, recalls how “this day gave us the evidence of something that for years we had already felt, but that many disbelieved – the political games of some, the hate and discrimination of others, was proven.”

Five years on however, the problems endure. As Rosa explains, “the majority of those affected by the ruling remain stateless – some are waiting for their documents to be “returned” to them, while others have been forced as “foreigners” into an undefined naturalisation process”. Sadly, this is not unexpected. If there’s one thing that history makes very clear, it is that once you are cast out, it is a tremendous struggle to make your way back in. And those who are made stateless are almost always condemned to pass that on to their children, perpetuating exclusion for generations to come.

For those of us working to protect the right to a nationality, the five-year anniversary of the Dominican ruling is significant – not only for what it says about how readily the situation in that country has become entrenched, but because it is worryingly emblematic of a new generation of global threats to citizenship. Our work today is no longer just about finding ways to “correct” mistakes made in the past and promote inclusion for existing stateless communities. More and more, it is about trying to prevent what could perhaps be described as “citizenship creep”: newly emerging situations around the world where a long-standing claim to nationality is called into question. People who were once sure of their status as citizens are increasingly treated as suspect, included in a narrative about outsiders, asked to provide ever-more thorough proof of belonging and finding themselves teetering on the edge of the political community, with a very real risk of being removed altogether.

A pensioner caught up in the “Windrush” situation in the UK who needs cancer treatment is asked to produce documents issued more than half a century ago before he will be assisted under the National Health Service… A Hispanic man in Texas, USA, who tries to renew his passport is turned away until he can produce further proof of her birth in the country because the authenticity of his birth certificate is suddenly being questioned… Families in Assam, India, who are desperately hunting for evidence to demonstrate that they were present in the country before 1971 in order to get their names onto the new National Register of Citizens – with 4 million people at risk of losing their citizenship by the year’s end…

We follow these and other situations of “citizenship creep” with a dire sense of foreboding. How can we arrest progress down the slippery slope of alienation and ultimately dehumanisation that can, at its worst, open the door to unimaginable horrors, as it has for the stateless Rohingya in Myanmar?

Looking back to 23 September 2013, Rosa says “this day, they buried us alive: it (was) … turned us into stateless persons in our country, the ultimate form of rejection.” As ever more cracks become visible in citizenship around the world, we must pay close attention. As with so many things in life, when it comes to nationality, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Source: Civil genocide: Why threats to citizenship must not be ignored

A little girl’s right to an identity number exposes the cracks in Cuba and South Africa’s citizenship laws — Quartz

Interesting example of the statelessness and its impact:

A little girl’s desire to go to school exposed the cracks of citizenship laws in Cuba and South Africa. The girl, now 8, was deemed stateless until a court ordered the South African government to grant her citizenship this week. Her Cuban parents have been fighting for her rights for most of the child’s life.

On Sept. 6, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s judgement that the girl should be recognized as a South African citizen, her lawyers said in a statement. The ruling also ordered the ministry of home affairs to draw up regulations to allow other stateless children the chance to apply for citizenship.

Without citizenship and an identity number, she could not graduate, go to university, get married, or even have her death registered. Citizenship isn’t only a matter of national pride, but access to many state institutions and benefits in a world where international bordersstill hold much power.

“Daniela’s case is an example of how a child can fall through the cracks of nationality laws and citizenship provisions,” said Jacob van Garderen, director of Lawyers for Human Rights.

South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs argued that the child could be granted permanent residence and become a naturalized citizen, according to documents filed to the court. They also said the judge violated the separation of state and judiciary when he ordered for new regulations. Still, despite launching the appeal and a two-year battle between courts, the government dropped the case at the last minute.

Daniela’s lawyers argued that permanent residence would not equate to citizenship, and that the child would always be a foreigner in the country she was born in. Further, the process of obtaining permanent residence could take between five and ten years.

Daniela was born in Cape Town in 2008. She was issued a birth certificate without an identity number because her parents were foreigners. Kenia Maria Rodriguez Garcia simply assumed her daughter was Cuban. The Cuban Embassy in South Africa, however, refused to grant Daniela citizenship on the basis that her mother’s absence from the island nation made her a “permanent emigrant,” thus excluding her child from citizenship rights.

Garcia came to South Africa in 2005 as an engineer participating in a bilateral treaty. She is now a permanent resident in South Africa, but still found that her child’s rights were limited. Garcia says she hated exposing her daughter to public scrutiny, but is grateful that other parents will be spared the ordeal.

Source: A little girl’s right to an identity number exposes the cracks in Cuba and South Africa’s citizenship laws — Quartz

‘Stateless’ Ottawa-born man loses bid for citizenship

Latest update on the Budlakoti case.

In the end, keeping him in limbo rather than acknowledging his statelessness and regularizing his status, while reinforcing the overall Government messaging on fraud, is likely to be more costly, in terms of ongoing legal appeals and that he cannot work:

Budlakoti had no idea he wasn’t an official Canadian citizen until May 2010 when he ran afoul of the law. He was sentenced to three years in prison for weapons and cocaine trafficking, and ordered deported in December 2011 based on what federal officials deemed his “serious criminality.”

But India rejected him. Indian officials said Budlakoti is not a citizen and have refused Canada’s request to issue him travel documents.

It means that Budlakoti continues to live under the restrictive terms of a federal deportation order that can’t be enforced. He must report every month to the Canada Border Services Agency and live with his family. His other family members, including his parents, are all Canadian citizens.

For his part, Budlakoti contends he is effectively stateless: living in a legal limbo without health care, social services or employment opportunities.

‘Stateless’ Ottawa-born man loses bid for citizenship | Ottawa Citizen.

‘I can’t be stateless’: Born-in-Canada criminal fighting deportation after Ottawa decides citizenship not valid

Interesting case of Deepan Budlakoti, born, raised and lived in Canada but to parents with diplomatic status but who has lived all his life in Canada:

Mr. Budlakoti is being removed from Canada for ‘serious criminality.’ He served significant jail time [three years] for trafficking both weapons and drugs. Even though Mr. Budlakoti was born in Canada, he is not a citizen due to the 1977 Citizenship Act which amended the rule to exclude all children of foreign-born diplomats born in Canada from Canadian citizenship unless one of the parents was a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. No application for citizenship has ever been made by him or on his behalf.”

Canada is a signatory to a 1961 international convention that imposes a duty to reduce statelessness.

Asking a court to declare Mr. Budlakoti’s citizenship “is an exceptional remedy because this is an exceptional case,” Mr. Hameed said. “It’s exceptional because Deepan was born in Canada, lived his entire life in Canada, and was assured on multiple occasions by the government of Canada that he was a Canadian citizen. … If there was an issue or a problem, the onus was clearly on the Canadian government to have done its due diligence, to determine whether or not there’s some exception to the rule or whether they have their records straight.”

To argue today, more than two decades later, that Canada made a mistake by issuing the passports is “very prejudicial and unfair,” said Mr. Hameed. “Now, with a finding of criminal inadmissibility, it basically bars him from taking the normal steps that he would have taken, or could have taken, to become a citizen earlier on.”

‘I can’t be stateless’: Born-in-Canada criminal fighting deportation after Ottawa decides citizenship not valid

UK Immigration Bill: UK terror suspects could be stripped of their citizenship

Interesting that the UK revokes citizenship even when this would leave someone stateless, contrary to the UN Conventions on statelessness. Will be interesting to see if Canada (and Australia) follow suit with respect to statelessness, as well as giving the Minister discretion with limited due process.

Immigration bill: UK terror suspects could be stripped of their citizenship – UK Politics – UK – The Independent.