Power to make citizens stateless concerns British Parliament committee

March 3, 2014 at 4:23 PM

LONDON, March 3 (UPI) -- A Parliamentary committee said Monday an addition to a proposed British immigration law, leading to loss of a passport, may be a breach of global obligations.

In a last-minute revision, British Home Secretary Theresa May inserted a provision that would allow the government to revoke the passport of a naturalized British citizen to prevent the person from returning to Britain from abroad. The addition to the law is a concession to right-wing Tories seeking tougher measures regarding the deportation of criminals, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Monday.

The immigration bill is currently under consideration by the House of Lords.

A report by Parliament's joint committee on human rights said there is "a very great risk of breaching the U.K.'s obligations" to the international community if the power is granted.

The country that admitted the British citizen would then have a stateless person on its hands, the committee reasoned.

The new power to strip a person of a U.K. passport would only apply to naturalized citizens, and is most likely to be used against terror suspects as a way to deny them a return to Britain, the newspaper said.

The committee also asked for clarification of safeguards to protect children of those rendered stateless.

Dr. Hywel Francis, chairman of the committee, noted Britain historically has been a champion in the reduction in the number of stateless people.

"The new power ... exposes British citizens. It takes away the right to have rights," he said.

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