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2014 27 MAY

Theresa May to seek support for plan to deprive terror suspects of citizenship

The home secretary, Theresa May, is to ask the Commons on Wednesday to back her plan to deprive terror suspects of British citizenship, even if it leaves them stateless.
The home secretary will ask MPs to overturn a House of Lords amendment to her immigration bill, which would seriously delay her plans by insisting that a joint committee of peers and MPs scrutinise the proposal before it can become law.

May will, however, announce that she is prepared to concede a second Lords defeat on her immigration bill and will put in place plans for specialist independent advocates for trafficked children. It is believed that the legislation for the child guardians will be included in the modern slavery bill instead of the immigration bill, which will reach the statute book shortly.

The home secretary intends to press ahead with her plan to strip terror suspects of British citizenship, including British fighters returning from Syria who are suspected of having fought alongside jihadists, despite strong criticism.

A former director of public prosecutions, a former supreme court judge and 23 Liberal Democrats were among the 242 peers who supported Lord Pannick's successful Lords amendment that would delay its implementation. The move was added to the immigration bill in January without any of the pre-legislative scrutiny that the remainder was subject to.

At the time of the Lords defeat, Pannick said: "There are regrettably all too many dictators around the world willing to use the creation of statelessness as a weapon. We should do nothing to suggest that it is acceptable."

The director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said: "Removing the right to have rights is a new low. Washing our hands of potential terrorists is dangerously short-sighted and statelessness is a tool of despots not democrats. The Lords rightly ripped this plan apart – now it's time our MPs matched their courage."

Her criticism was echoed by the human rights organisation Reprieve, whose legal director, Kat Craig, said the French rightwing Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, was calling on the French government to implement May's plan.

Craig said: "When Le Pen and the French far right are the strongest supporters of a policy, alarm bells should be ringing for the government. This shows that not only are Theresa May's plans for the arbitrary exile of Britons dangerously extreme, they are also setting a terrible example around the world. The UK's reputation as a country which values the rule of law will be at risk if MPs do not oppose the home secretary's plans for citizenship-stripping."

May has argued that the 1961 UN convention on statelessness included the ability to deprive a naturalised person of their citizenship if they conducted themselves "in a manner seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of Her Britannic Majesty".
On the issue of guardians for child victims of trafficking, a Home Office spokesman said that trials of specialist child advocates across 23 local authority areas that were announced in January would go ahead this summer.

He said: "These trials will go wider than the Lords amendment to the immigration bill in that individual and dedicated support will be given not only to those children trafficked across borders, but to those trafficked within the UK as well. It is important to allow a thorough assessment to be made of these trials, which we intend to run alongside the passage of the modern slavery bill."

A Home Office report by the Refugee Council and the Children's Society last year highlighted the inadequate level of protection for trafficked children offered by the professionals and agencies who were meant to support them.

Source: The Guardian

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