Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which was first proposed in July and updated in November, exempts the government from giving any prior notice of a decision to deprive a person of citizenship if authorities do not have the subject’s contact details or if it is not “reasonably practical” to do so.
The clause has drawn a lot of flak all around with Conservative backbencher and Member of Parliament for Haltemprice and Howden, David Davis dubbing it “uncivilised” and “legally disputable”.
Davis said: “Not only are these excessively broad new powers not necessary to tackle terrorism, but they are counter-productive.”
He has put forward an amendment so that the home secretary may not deprive someone of their citizenship without notification.
As of now, only those who pose a threat to the UK either through terrorism or war crimes, or if their process of obtaining citizenship was found to be fraudulent in nature, can have their citizenship removed. Clause 9 also says the same, but it also allows citizenship to be removed without notice. Reasons given – it might “not be reasonably practicable” to tell the individual first in the interests of national security or international relations.
The UK has had the power to strip dual nationals of their British citizenship since 2006. These measures were introduced after the London bombings on July 7, 2005, that killed 52 people and injured many more. British anti-terrorism laws were amended thereafter, and collective security became more important than protection of civil liberties and freedoms.
A report by The New Statesman has found that almost six million people from ethnic minority backgrounds could be affected by the proposed clause. Activists have expressed fear that Clause 9 could be used to target certain communities – such as British Muslims.
The Nationality and Borders Bill is currently going through the House of Commons and will progress to the House of Lords by next year. It is being viewed with grave concern by immigration lawyers who say that the bill goes against principles of international and domestic laws.
Petitions calling for removal of Clause 9 from the Nationality and Borders bill have been filed and has turned the issue into a national outrage. According to one such petition, the removal of the clause is essential as “individuals could be stripped of their British citizenship without warning.” Thousands of people have signed it calling it “unacceptable, and inconsistent with international human rights obligations”.
The Nationality and Borders Bill will allow the @ukhomeoffice to strip people of their British citizenship without them being told about it.— David Davis (@DavidDavisMP) December 7, 2021
This is completely wrong.
Today I spoke about why I have introduced amendments to remove this power. pic.twitter.com/YFfflXNBT3
They have called for these provisions to be removed before this Bill is enacted.
Kashif Iqbal, a British-Pakistani from Glasgow, who set up another petition to prevent UK government from revoking citizenship of ethnic minorities, has asked for the clause to be debated and not be made a law.
“This is especially problematic to British Asian Muslims against whom this law has been used against and who now will live in fear as migrants in the UK despite being born here and living here all their lives”, he states in the petition.
He further states, “under the guise of National Security the government can deem you a threat and revoke your citizenship without your knowledge. The changes are draconian and offer an individual little to no chance to appeal”.
The petition has so far garnered over 150,000 signatures.