JP Floru is a Westminster Councillor, Senior Research Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute and writer of Heavens on Earth – How to Create Mass Prosperity.
Action-time. Last year Home Secretary Theresa May used deprivation of citizenship orders to strip 20 jihadists who had travelled to Syria, out of an estimated 240, of their citizenship. In all cases they had dual citizenship. Since then, the law has been changed to allow taking away citizenship even in the case where that would render them stateless. Now an estimated 500 British jihadists have travelled to Syria and Iraq. Let’s strip them all of their citizenship.
When you obtain citizenship you enter into a contract: it creates rights and obligations. You are under no obligation to apply for citizenship: it is your free choice. If you choose to breach your naturalisation “contract”, then you risk losing citizenship. I am a naturalised Brit. For most like me, becoming British was a momentous moment. I believe that in 99 per cent of naturalisations the new Brit understands those obligations and rights, and is eager to submit to them and to obtain them. That a naturalised citizen should then act to destroy the freedoms of his adopted homeland leaves me speechless.
Since Clause 60 in this year’s Immigration Act the Home Secretary can revoke someone’s citizenship if that person’s presence is not conducive to the public good; even when that leaves the revokee stateless. Observe that we have been so good to leave the jihadists some rights: the Home Secretary can only revoke it if she has reasonable grounds to believe that (s)he would find citizenship elsewhere. There is also an examination of the process by an independent reviewer.
A number of human rights groups cried foul when the Bill came through. Ben Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism said that “statelessness in international law places an individual at a very substantial disadvantage”. The former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald of River Glavenn called it “a policy beloved of the world’s worst regimes during the 20th century”. The barrister Helena Kennedy called the Bill “a source of shame” to the UK. Some likened it to Hitler’s 1935 Nuremberg Laws which stripped millions of people of their citizenship, leaving them with no rights. Comparing the free Western world to Nazi Germany? I see.
Now what would the jihadists do with our human rights if they could decide it? Precisely for that reason I am not particularly interested what problems statelessness might create for a jihadist. I am not interested in their wellbeing; in fact, I don’t want them to be “well” at all. Citizenship more or less forces the host state to defend you when you are in trouble abroad – why would we do that in the case of jihadists? Why use taxpayers’ money to, for example, defend a British jihadist when he is dragged before a sharia court in Saudi Arabia? Why, (s)he should be pleased to be judged under the law of his choice.
Jihadists want to destroy the very Western civil order of which they enjoy citizenship. Of course there must be due legal process; if there isn’t then we are morally bankrupt. Withdrawing citizenship should not happen at the say-so of a politician, and we must be absolutely certain that the citizen in question is indeed a jihadist. But once their jihadist status is confirmed, should we be protecting their rights by way of citizenship?
Should we defend the rights of those who want to do away with our rights, who despise liberty, who despise us and all we stand for, who want to destroy it with beheadings and mass terror, who want to enslave women and kill the gays?
I say nay. You do not defeat this ideology of death by pinning a “please do not kill us” note on the wall.