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Deprivation of nationality as an anti-terror measure may be ‘at odds with human rights’

The deprivation of nationality in the context of counter-terrorism strategies is “a drastic measure which can be extremely socially divisive” and may be “at odds with human rights”, according to PACE’s Legal Affairs Committee.

In a draft resolution adopted today, based on a report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), the committee said it was concerned that some states “consider nationality as a privilege and not a right”, pointing out that nationality has been recognised as ‘the right to have rights’.

The parliamentarians listed several concerns with laws in a number of Council of Europe member States which allow them to deprive citizens of nationality, including for those convicted of terrorist offences or even just suspected of conducting terrorist activities.

Where so-called “foreign fighters” are deprived of their nationality, the committee pointed out, this could result in an “export of risks”. As such it could be ineffective as an anti-terrorism measure and even counter-productive.

The committee called on States to repeal any laws that allow an “arbitrary” deprivation of nationality that is contrary to international standards. In general, they should review, in light of international human rights standards, laws which allow for deprivation of nationality of persons convicted or suspected of terror activities.

Finally, the committee stressed that deprivation of nationality should not lead to statelessness and should not imply discrimination against dual citizens.

The full Assembly will discuss and vote on the committee’s proposal at the PACE plenary session in January 2019.