EU: Deprivation of citizenship: useful reading


Following the UK Home Secretary's controversial decision to revoke the citizenship of the teenager Shamima Begum, who left the UK to join Islamic State in 2015, the issue of citizenship deprivation has been high on the public agenda. A number of reports published in recent years provide useful reading on the topic.

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Unmaking Citizens: The Expansion of Citizenship Revocation in Response to Terrorism (Center for Migration Studies, link) by David J. Trimbich and Nicole Reiz:

"In December 2014, the British House of Commons voted to intervene militarily with targeted airstrikes in Syria, and the United Kingdom (UK) embarked on a new phase in addressing the expansion and role of the Islamic State (ISIS). Hilary Benn, the UK’s Shadow Foreign Secretary made a speech highlighting the threat ISIS poses to the UK and liberal democracy. Yet, the UK and other democratic states have increasingly engaged in policy actions at home that threaten liberal democratic ideals, including expanded citizenship revocation.

Citizenship revocation or deprivation refers to all legal arrangements for the involuntary loss of citizenship or nationality. International law guarantees states the right to determine nationality/citizenship, providing a basis for inclusion and exclusion. Conversely, due to the rise of statelessness during the twentieth century, international legal agreements and norms have shifted in an attempt to reduce statelessness and promote human rights. While this may be the case, the largely liberal and broad international legal environment has produced wide variations in citizenship revocation policies.

...While not all states have constitutional provisions related to revocation, many states have other extra-constitutional revocation laws and policies. For example, as of 2014, 33 European states have laws or policies stipulating legal grounds for loss of citizenship. Additionally, 22 states have laws dictating grounds for revocation related to specific activities that directly or indirectly contravene state interests." (emphasis added)

Citizenship deprivation: differential treatment or discrimination? (European Network on Statelessness) by Sangita Jaghai:

"After just three months in office, the Netherland’s Minister of Justice, Ferdinand Grapperhaus has already expressed his intention to strip two dual citizens of their Dutch nationality. The two brothers are currently in the Netherlands and have previously been convicted for acts of terrorism. Grounds for their conviction remain undisclosed, but the Ministry of Justice and Security stated that both persons do not pose a threat to national security. Nevertheless, the Dutch Parliament wishes to see people who committed terrorist acts (including preparatory acts) stripped of their Dutch citizenship, if it does not result in statelessness. This measure is in line with the general prohibition on deprivation of nationality as set out in the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961 Convention). Yet, several questions remain unanswered as such deprivation measures only target dual citizens (i.e. naturalised citizens and dual nationals at birth). Is it discriminatory to punish dual nationals harder than people with one nationality by denationalising them, or is this a form of lawful differential treatment?"

UK: House of Commons Library: Deprivation of British citizenship and withdrawal of passport facilities (pdf):

"In recent years there has been an increasing use of powers to deprive people of their British citizenship and withdraw British passport facilities, particularly in respect of those who may be involved in fighting, extremist activity or terrorist training overseas."

Citzenship removal resulting in statelessness: First report of the Independent Reviewer on the operation of the power to remove citizenship obtained by naturalisation from persons who have no other citizenship (April 2016, pdf) by David Anderson Q.C.:

"1.8. This report is the outcome of the first statutory review. It covers the period 30 July 2014 to 29 July 2015.

1.9. The power under review was not exercised during the period under review, and indeed had still not been exercised as of April 2016, when this report went to print. There is therefore no concrete action to review.

1.10. It may however be useful for the evolution of the power under review to be summarised, and for some of the likely legal and practical issues concerning its operation to be identified in outline. That is done in chapters 2 and 3, before some short conclusory comments in chapter 4."

Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly: Prosecuting and punishing the crimes against humanity or even possible genocide committed by Daesh (20 September 2017, pdf)

This paper includes the results of a questionnaire to a number of Council of Europe member states (and others) on the powers available to them for prosecuting crimes committed by Daesh (Islamic State) and its members. The replies on Denmark and the UK both refer to powers on removal of citizenship.

The questionnaire served as background to a subsequent resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Prosecuting and punishing the crimes against humanity or even possible genocide committed by Daesh (Resolution 2190(2017), link)

Citizenship Revocation in Italy as a Counter-Terrorism Measure (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Just like with the adoption of Decree Law no. 144 in 2005, the Italian legislator did not take long to follow the steps of other European lawmakers. Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK are among those countries that updated their legislation between 2014 and 2017 to allow citizenship revocation of those engaged in terrorism, while a similar proposal failed in France in 2016, since the majority of the French legislative Assembly did not agree on the draft text. In 2018, the Italian government approved Decree Law no. 113, embodying emergency provisions then converted into ordinary law by the Parliament a few weeks later (Law 132/2018).

Art. 14 of the 2018 Decree Law amended Italian legislation by allowing the revocation of citizenship based on a decision of the Minister of the Interior when a person has been convicted for terrorist offences. Not all Italian citizens can be targeted by this measure: it is applicable only to naturalised citizens or to those who acquired Italian nationality because they married an Italian citizen or were born and resided in Italy until the age of 18. Therefore, this provision specifically addresses immigrants and their children who became Italian citizens."

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