10 April 2014
Revoking citizenship in Britain and potential links to drone killings
The New York Times reports that Britain has increasingly invoked its power to strip citizens of their British citizenship. Furthermore, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is promoting legislation that would increase this power to revoke citizenship, as a result of concerns that British Muslims traveling to fight in Syria will pose a threat upon their return to Britain. Britain is one of the few countries, including Israel, which can revoke citizenship of dual nationals, if suspected or convicted of terrorist offenses. However, the proposed legislation would expand such practice to naturalised citizens that have no other nationality, resulting in the statelessness of that person. Home Secretary Theresa May stated that citizenship is a ‘privilege, not a right.’ The purpose of this power is to disrupt the terrorist threat and other countries are taking note. For example, in Canada there is a bill before parliament including some deprivation powers. Additionally, Australia and the Netherlands are also considering such legislation.
Furthermore, the stripping of citizenship has been linked to recent drone killings. For example, Mohamed Sakr, a British-Egyptian, was stripped of his British citizenship in September 2010 and seventeen months later was killed by an American drone in Somalia. Additionally, Bilal al-Berjawi, a Lebanese-Briton, was also stripped of his British citizenship and then killed in a drone strike. Although American and British officials claim there is no link between the decision to strip these men of their citizenship and the subsequent drone strikes, the sequence of these events has conveniently allowed British officials to skirt due process questions.