The first time I went to France, during college, the told us that we should keep or passports with us because the French police could ask for ID and it was illegal to be without.
I was outraged and incredulous! Sacre blue and holy shit! What sort of police state were they running!!!!
Of course, not very much of one, but it felt odd. Obviously, a lot depends on how such a regime is formally constituted and actually implemented. When it’s unfamiliar, one’s imagination can run free.
Some things aren’t as bad as they seem but still pretty bad.
Citizenship is fundamental. In the modern world, statelessness is a bad place to be but being stripped of any given citizenship can wreck your life (or get you killed).
Shamima Begum has been stripped of her UK (and apparently only) citizenship at thew word of a government minister. No trial. No case being made. No appeal, as far as I can tell.
One can forfeit or renounce a citizenship, but again she doesn’t seem to have done that (and there should be very very clear criteria for doing so).
She’s not the only one:
Home Office statistics show the government has stripped more than 150 people of British citizenship for the “public good” since 2010.
The power was used only a handful of times a year, until deprivations rocketed from 14 people in 2016 to 104 in 2017.
The Home Office declined to provide a reason for the dramatic increase, a breakdown of cases, information on the justifications used or what happened to the individuals targeted.
Lord Anderson, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said a “scrutiny blackhole” made the impact of citizenship deprivations impossible to assess.
So we don’t know if they’re helping or making things worse. There’s no independent review. But the government doesn’t do it lightly!
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary’s priority is to keep Britain safe and he has a range of tools to do this. They include the power to deprive people who pose a serious threat of their British citizenship where it would not make them stateless.
“We have been open and transparent about the use of this power, publishing reports as recently as last summer, setting out the number of deprivations.
“Any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are not taken lightly and are based on all available evidence.”
So we have a minister with a power which may or may not help applied in a manner which may or may not help in ways not requiring consultation or review.
Given that the grounds of Begum’s “non statelessness” was that she was of Bangledeshi decent and thus(?!) entitled sorta to Bangledeshi citizenship except of course that she has never been there and whoops! they say they won’t take her. (I guess since Javid stripped her UK citizen first he wasn’t the one technically making her stateless?!)
This really shouldn’t be how things are done.
I’m technically tri-national. I was born in the US (so US citizenship), my father was Iranian (so Iranian citizenship which I don’t think I can renounce, but why bother), and I’m naturalised UK which is where I live and work. I sincerely doubt I’m at risk, practically speaking, but it’s unclear what protects me. I believe that depriving me of citizenship is not conducive to the public good but I don’t find any definition of what being conducive to the public good means.
Again, it’s highly (wildly!) unlikely that I’d be so targeted…but then why not make it impossible? Why not have review and independent determination and appeals and a clear definition that establishes a high bar? We’re talking about citizenship here!