IHRC welcomes today’s decision by the House of Lords to reject government proposals to make it easier to strip British nationals of their citizenship.
Under the proposed amendments to The British Nationality Act 1981 contained in the Immigration Bill 2013-2014 naturalised British citizens could have been divested of their nationality WITHOUT being charged, tried or convicted, even if it rendered them stateless.
The only test the Home Secretary would have had to apply is that the naturalised citizen had behaved in a manner seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK.
IHRC had opposed the power on the grounds that it was too wide-ranging and prone to abuse. It would also have placed Britain in breach of its human rights obligations. In 1961, the UK was one of the founding parties to the UN Convention on Reduction of Statelessness and one of the first countries to ratify the treaty in 1966.
The House of Lords voted 242-180 to reject the amendments saying citizenship deprivation was an approach used by “tyrants and dictators”. Members also criticised the government for attempting to smuggle the amendments into the Immigration Bill. The proposals had only been added to the Bill in recent weeks and were not included in the original text of the legislation when it was first published last year.
IHRC had sent Lords a briefing outlining its opposition to the proposals saying they were draconian, unnecessary and would be discriminatory in their application.
The Home Secretary already has the ability to deprive a person of their citizenship if they have obtained it through fraudulent means or where it is deemed to be ‘conducive to the public good’, on the condition that the individual is not left stateless.
IHRC was also concerned that the proposed powers would be used against minorities and political opponents of the government. Most known cases of those already deprived of their British citizenship are of non-whites and Muslims, under the cover of the war on terror.
Notes to Editors:
IHRC’s briefing on the amendments to The British Nationality Act 1981 in the Immigration Bill 2013-2014 can be read online HERE.
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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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