UK moves bill to scrap citizenship sans notice

21 November 2021

News Desk  :
In an interesting move, the UK in the Nationality and Borders Bill has proposed that people be stripped of their British citizenship without giving them notice to appeal if the legislation being debated in the parliament becomes law.
Reporting the matter, The Guardian said the proposed rule change was "quietly" added to the bill, which was updated earlier this month.
Clause 9 - "Notice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship" - of the bill
exempts the government from having to give notice if it is not "reasonably practicable" to do so, or in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or otherwise in the public interest.
The bill would permit the home secretary, Britain's top domestic security official, to cancel citizenship without warning on national security grounds if it is not "reasonably practicable" to do, according to The Washington Post.
The move comes months after a top British court said that Shamima Begum, the British-born "IS bride" who left the country as a teenager to join the terrorist group in Syria, will not be allowed to return to the United Kingdom to fight a legal case about the revocation of citizenship.
The Home Office said: "British citizenship is a privilege, not a right. Deprivation of citizenship on conducive grounds is rightly reserved for those who pose a threat to the UK or whose conduct involves very high harm. The nationality and borders bill will amend the law so citizenship can be deprived where it is not practicable to give notice, for example if there is no way of communicating with the person."
Critics say removing citizenship, as in the case of Shamima is already a contentious power, and scrapping the requirement for notice would make the home secretary's powers even more draconian.
Frances Webber, the vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations, said: "This amendment sends the message that certain citizens, despite being born and brought up in the UK and having no other home, remain migrants in this country. Their citizenship, and therefore all their rights, are precarious and contingent.
"It builds on previous measures to strip British-born dual nationals (who are mostly from ethnic minorities) of citizenship and to do it while they are abroad, measures used mainly against British Muslims. It unapologetically flouts international human rights obligations and basic norms of fairness."
British Home Office powers to strip British nationals of their citizenship were introduced after the 2005 London bombings but their use increased under Theresa May's tenure as home secretary from 2010, and they were broadened in 2014.
The requirement to give notice had already been weakened in 2018, allowing the Home Office to serve notice by putting a copy of it on a person's file - but only in cases where their whereabouts were unknown.
The new clause would remove the need for notification altogether in a range of circumstances. It would also appear to be capable of being applied retrospectively to cases where an individual was stripped of citizenship without notice before the clause became law, raising questions about their ability to appeal.
Other proposed rule changes in the bill have already attracted criticism, including rendering claims from anyone arriving in the UK by an illegal route inadmissible, while criminalising them and anyone who seeks to save their lives, and giving Border Force staff immunity from prosecution if people die in the Channel during "pushback" operations.

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