Human rights organisations and British MPs have expressed concern about the Nationality and Borders Bill that allows the United Kingdom government to strip individuals of their citizenship without warning.
Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill was added in November and it exempts the government from giving notice of a decision to deprive a person of citizenship if it is not “reasonably practicable” to do so, or in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or “in the public interest”.
In 2019, Shamima Begum, a UK-born woman, who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State group was stripped of her British citizenship on national security grounds.
The new clause also allows authorities to not alert individuals about their decision if they do not have their subject’s contact details.
The Bill, proposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, will be discussed in the House of Lords for consideration.
British Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “disgracefully getting someone of Asian heritage to do his dirty work” to revoke citizenship of people.
“The Nationality and Borders Bill could have enduring disastrous consequences for the citizenship stripping of minorities, and that’s why all fair-minded people in full solidarity must oppose it,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Labour MP Apsana Begum also opposed the Bill, saying that the suffering it will “cause to the most vulnerable people is immeasurable”. She said the Conservative MPs are despicable.
A petition against the Bill on the UK government website states that stripping individuals of British citizenship without warning is unacceptable and inconsistent with international human rights obligations. It has so far received over 1,05,600 signatures.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International said that if the Nationality and Borders Bill is passed, it would create obstacles to those seeking asylum in the country. The organisation urged all MPs to oppose the “draconian” measures of the Bill.
Frances Webber, the vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations, said the Clause 9 builds on measures taken by the UK government since 2006 to strip dual nationals of their British citizenship, which according to her has been mainly used to target Muslims, The Guardian reported.
The measures were introduced after the 2005 London bombings. In 2014, Theresa May who was the home secretary at that time had extended the measures to foreign-born British citizens without dual nationality.
“This amendment sends the message that certain citizens, despite being born and brought up in the UK and having no other home, remain migrants in this country. Their citizenship, and therefore all their rights, are precarious and contingent,” Webber said.
The director of non-profit organisation Reprieve, Maya Foa, said the Clause 9 would give “unprecedented power” to Patel to strip citizenship in secret without giving notice.
“Under this regime, a person accused of speeding would be afforded more rights than someone at risk of being deprived of their British nationality,” she added. “This once again shows how little regard this government has for the rule of law.”
She described the Bill as “deeply misguided and morally abhorrent policy”.