LONDON, April 10 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is advancing legislation that would give the government additional power to disown its citizens.
The new laws would give the government added flexibility to deny British citizens re-entry to the country, effectively leaving them stateless, and comes at a time Britons worry a steady stream of British Muslims, traveling to fight in Syria, could be a problem when they return.
The proposed legislation comes after two British-born suspected terrorists, Mohamed Sakr and Bilal al-Berjawi, were stripped of their British citizenship and later killed in American drone strikes in Somalia.
In the cases of Sakr and Berwaji, Britain demonstrated its growing use of its ability to strip citizenship and other benefits from its citizens by a stroke of a pen, without a hearing or involvement by courts.
While most Western countries regard citizenship a right, Britain’s Home Secretary Teresa May called it “a privilege, not a right,” and the government’s program of removing citizenship from selected naturalized citizens is beginning to stir public debate, and other countries are watching closely.
A bill giving the Canadian government deprivation powers is in Parliament, and Australia and the Netherlands are considering similar legislation.
Forty-two people in Britain have had their citizenship removed since 2006, 20 in the past year. The formal procedure typically takes place while the citizen is out of the country, rendering him or her stateless. Israel, by comparison, has used the process only three times since 2000.
[New York Times]