A new report, launched March, 29 by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) and the Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT), offers the first comprehensive global survey of legislative provisions regulating nationality deprivation in relation to national security. In the decades following World War II, citizenship stripping disappeared as a practice in the West, inter alia because the practice had come to be associated with totalitarian regimes. But it is now making a comeback – repackaged for the 21st century as a counter-terrorism instrument after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States and during the period marked by the rise and fall of ISIS.
Covering 190 countries, the report analyses the prevalence and scope of the phenomenon, the level of the deprivation decisions, the risks of statelessness as a result of stripping. It finds that 79% of countries practices nationality deprivation on at least one of the following security-related grounds: disloyalty; military service to a foreign country; other (non-military) service to a foreign country; other offences.
Foreword to Principles on Deprivation of Nationality as a National Security Measure by Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism:
‘Security challenges are genuine and keenly felt by many states, but as Special Rapporteur I fundamentally maintain that rights and security are not at odds. Rather, it is only through the meaningful enforcement of rights that security in all its dimensions will be realized for states and individuals. It remains essential that States respect safeguards established by international human rights law around the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality. These safeguards include non-discrimination, fair process, legal representation, the opportunity to effectively challenge decisions before an independent body, ideally of judicial nature and reparations. Decisions must respect the absolute prohibition on refoulement and take due consideration of the impact on human rights, including the right to private and family life, as well as the impacts on the rights of the child. Legal safeguards around the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality are imperative as loss of nationality has serious human rights consequences many of which may be irreparable.’
The main conclusion of the report is that there is no proven effectiveness of deprivation of nationality in providing protection for national security. This means that deprivation of nationality must be limited to well-established norms of international law. These include prevention of statelessness, prohibition of discrimination, prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality; international humanitarian law; and international legislation on the rights of refugees.