Australian government to endorse law to revoke citizenship

Australian government to introduce law regarding dual citizenship of those involved in or suspected of involvement in terrorism

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, is set to introduce a new law which will give the right to strip dual nationals of citizenship if they are suspected of involvement in “terrorism.” The law will be proposed to parliament on Wednesday.

The bill is likely to pass with the coalition parties’ support.

The legislation concerns Australians who possess dual citizenship and are “convicted of a specific terrorism-related offence” or suspected of involvement in “specified terrorist-related conduct.”

Abbott told reporters that the bill is the “first thing” that will be introduced in the case of endorsement by his coalition partners.

He also highlighted that the new legislation is based on rules and regulations seen in other countries, in particular the UK, and said, “Australia is not acting alone here and we are not ahead of the pack… We have taken advice from our partners.”

The proposal sparked controversy and criticism, following Abbott’s announcement last month that it would enable the immigration minister to revoke citizenship of anybody who is “suspected” of involvement in terror acts, especially linked to ISIS.

According to ABC News, the legislation will not give ultimate authority to revoke somebody’s citizenship, but in fact such decisions will be “subject to judicial review” and will apply to citizens who fought with “a listed terrorist organisation overseas.”

“I want to stress we will be ensuring that as far as we can humanly make it, no-one becomes stateless, and any decision by the minister to strip someone of their citizenship, to strip a dual national of Australia citizenship, will be subject to due judicial review,” said Abbott.

According to the Australian Associated Press, the PM further stated, “As Australians, we will never, ever, sacrifice our freedoms, but we will defend them, that’s what this legislation is all about.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said prior to discussions about the said law, that the reinforcement of section 35 of the Citizenship Act would take place, which enforces the revocation of citizenship from nationals who are fighting for a country at war with Australia.

Recently two Australian nationals have hit the spotlights after suspicions that they joined ISIS, and claims that they may have been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq had emerged.

The two suspected nationals who allegedly fled to join ISIS had posted photos on social media showing severed heads, displaying their possible involvement.

Following the debates, Bishop had proposed to repatriate the family of one of the men, who happens to have five children and a wife, Tara Nettleton.

In addition, the government has been considering taking custody of children from militants who fight overseas following media reports that claim the wife of one foreign fighter in Syria wants to return home with her children.

In May, the government made it clear that anyone who has travelled overseas to fight in the conflicts in the Middle East and now wants to come back after regretting the decision will be heavily prosecuted.

Australia banned its citizens from travelling to Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa province last year, with the exception of a legitimate cause, to prevent them from joining groups in the Middle East.

Civil rights groups are worried that the new legislation would do injustice to many nationals who may happen to have relatives in the area, or simply be going there for journalism or humanitarian aid.

David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrat senator of New South Wales, had criticised the measures, saying that it is the “most shocking assault on civil liberties in Australia’s history,” reports Anadolu Agency.

Australia is also known to be tough on refugees, and has recently made headlines with their alleged bribes to human traffickers to return refugees back from their shores.

Australian PM said they could "offer assistance to neighbors in other ways" but will not accept people coming "through the back door."

Australia vows to stop asylum seekers from reaching its shores, and often sends their boats back or sentences them to long-term detention in impoverished camps.

The United Nations and human rights groups have criticised Australia over its tough asylum-seeker policy, accusing the country of shirking international obligations. The United Nations refugee agency propounds that the country could be breaking international law with its actions.

TRTWorld and agencies