The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

UK strips 42 of citizenship

Government takes action in attempts to address national security threats

 Over the past decade, the United Kingdom has stripped 42 Britons of their citizenship. Twenty of the 42 citizenships have been revoked in the past year.The laws set in place in the U.K. state two grounds on which citizenship can be stripped: the Home Secretary finding a person’s presence not conducive to the public good, or a person receiving citizenship in a fraudulent way.

“The current laws have reserved the right to remove citizenship for decades on grounds of treason,” said Alice Ross, journalist at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in a phone interview with The Guilfordian. “They were first introduced during World War l but revised in 2002 and 2006.

“The last case prior to the recent ones was in 1973, over 30 years ago.”

A majority of the 42 most recent cases in the U.K. have been linked to terrorism or are considered to be national security threats.

According to Ross, 15 of those exiled from the U.K. or stripped of citizenship were out of the country when they were informed.

In fact, most of the accused are exiled without a court trial — the only prerequisite to revoking a citizenship is the Home Secretary’s signature.

“I believe they should have a fair trial; however, with terrorism cases, these laws are thrown out the window,” said Ross. “In any case, I don’t believe that exile is most effective. The most effective way to stop this is to put people in prison.”

And yet, despite having access to London’s Belmarsh Prison, home to 70 percent of the world’s terrorists, the U.K. continues to strip citizenship and exile suspects.

“After a recent history of very public terrorist attacks and threats on Britain, drastic measures to prevent harm to U.K. citizens seem reasonable,” said Cate Schurz ’13, former intern at Belmarsh Prison. “While removing someone’s citizenship is a serious measure that certainly bears consequences, part of me sees it as an appropriate method of population and immigration control, as well as a means to protect and preserve the nation.”

Is citizenship, then, a privilege or a right earned by means of birth, adoption and naturalization?

“There is a cultural seam through our society of believing that we are not citizens, but subjects,” said Amanda Weston, barrister at Garden Court Chambers, in a phone interview with The Guilfordian.

“It is no accident that this government has carefully gone around renaming government agencies ‘Her Majesty’s this and that,’” said Weston. “This promotes the kind of supine forelock-tugging, place-knowing society that might accept without question the repeated mantra that citizenship is a privilege — not a right — to be distributed at the largesse of a politician.”

Others indicate that the U.K. relies on legal precedent to support its withdrawal of the “privileges” of naturalized citizens.

“Since 1918, the U.K. has had laws enabling the deprivation of citizenship,” said Matthew Gibney, associate professor of politics and forced migration at the University of Oxford, in a phone interview with The Guilfordian. “Hence, it’s possible for U.K. officials to claim that U.K. citizenship has not, for the past 100 years, been an unconditional right.”

Government officials refuse to speak with reporters regarding the 42 former citizens.

“The government is not keen on speaking about this,” said Ross. “It is extremely cagey about the ones losing their citizenships.

“The aspect of the law that I criticize most is its lack of transparency.”

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James Sharpe, Senior Writer

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    AkiraMay 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    The British government has turned to a disturbing new tool in its zeal to prosecute the war on terror: stripping the citizenship…more from