Hollande to lift terror convicts dual citizenships

French politicians discuss new law on cancelling citizenship of convicted terrorists with dual nationality

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

French President Francois Hollande (R) and the government's general secretary Marc Guillaume leave after the weekly council of ministers at the Elysee palace in Paris on December 23, 2015

Updated Dec 31, 2015

French President Francois Hollande faces criticism after he called for a new law that cancels citizenship of terror convicts with dual nationality.

Hollande has announced a new law bill after the November 13 terror attacks by DAESH terrorists that killed 130 people in Paris.

However, last week the Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told journalists that it has been dropped from the amendment bill.

The following day, Hollande announced during a cabinet meeting that he will pass the law.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls also said that the French government will pursue plans to strip dual citizens of their French nationality if they are convicted of terrorism.

Aside from stripping citizenship, the bill inscribes the right to declare a state of emergency into the constitution, which includes security officials to raid homes and put people under house arrest without judicial oversight.

Hollande’s decision triggered much controversy and criticism not only from his Socialist Party, but from other leftist politicians as well.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira and former Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault from his party publicly criticised the decision.

Cecile Duflot, a former minister in his government, also said that, "In wanting to steal the thunder of the far right, we risk implementing their programme."

"It clearly means that there will be two classes of nationality and two classes of citizenship, that's why I say it raises fundamental questions," Jacques Toubon, a right wing politician, said on France Inter radio.

Far right National Front (FN) leader Marine le Pen, on the other side, happily took credit for the new reforms.

"Removal of nationality: the first effect of the 6.8 million votes for the National Front in regional elections," Le Pen wrote on Twitter.

Removing the "le droit du sol" (the right of the soil) right was first mooted by the anti-immigrant FN.

Droit du soul has been a fundamental principle, since the French Revolution, which gives everyone born in the country the right to citizenship.

Critics from intellectuals

Aside from politicians, Hollande also faces criticism from intellectuals.

Arthur Goldhammer, a prominent US commentator on France, wrote an article titled “Unforced Error” on his blog.

"Once again, Hollande looks both inept and unprincipled, incompetent and uncommitted to one of the fundamental values of the left," he wrote.

“It was an error induced by his predilection for the path of least resistance, his readiness to retreat at the first sign of opposition, and his inattention to the details of governing.”

Patrick Weil, a political scientist who met Hollande and advised him against the decision, said France would become "the first democracy in the world" to enshrine in its constitution the principle of unequal treatment of dual nationals.

"It introduces the idea of a different penalty for the same act, just because of the random chance of their birth," Weil, a professor at Yale University, said.

"That people -- who sometimes don't even know they have a second nationality -- can be banned is like the return of banishment as a penalty."

Public support

Despite the criticism within Hollande’s party and even from right, a recent poll showed that the new amendment has strong public support.

A poll conducted by the research firm Elabe for BFM-TV said that 86 percent were in favour of the plan, 67 percent saying it does not contradict left-wing values.

The amendment will be discussed and voted in February. A five third vote of the deputies and senators is required for the bill to be accepted.

Currently only naturalised citizens can be stripped of their French citizenship.

TRTWorld and agencies