Theresa May has ramped up the use of deprivation of citizenship powers.
(Photo: Home Office via Flickr Creative Commons)
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The Home Secretary has stripped at least two additional individuals
of their British citizenship in recent months, the Bureau has learned.
In February, an investigation by the Bureau and published with the
Independent revealed that Theresa May had signed deprivation of
citizenship orders for 16 people between the 2010 election and November
2012, including five British-born individuals.
That total has now risen
to 18 cases. Under the Labour government, five people lost their UK
The two new cases were revealed by a recent Freedom of Information
request made by the Bureau. One deprivation notice was issued late last
year, taking the total number who lost their UK nationality in 2012 to
six. A further case took place between January 1 and mid-March, when the
Freedom of Information request was submitted.
The Home Secretary cannot remove citizenship if it will make an
individual stateless, so the orders can only be made against
The Freedom of Information release listed the other nationality of
the individuals who have had their UK passports revoked. This revealed
that two new nations, Iran and Yemen, joined the list of alternate
nationalities; the Bureau has established that Yemeni and Iranian
dual-nationals lost their UK citizenship between June 2012 and March
However almost nothing else is known about the most recent
deprivation cases. Of the six that took place in 2012, nothing at all is
known about three; a further individual is known only as F2. The sole
case in 2013 is similarly a mystery.
Deprivation of citizenship orders take effect immediately, often
leaving individuals stranded abroad with no UK passport in a process
likened to ‘medieval exile’ by leading human rights lawyer Gareth
In cases where citizenship is being removed on terrorism grounds, the
only route of appeal is through the Special Immigration Appeals
Commission (Siac), a court that can hear evidence in secret. Cases often
go through many rounds of appeals and can last years.
Siac judgments are one of the primary sources of information about
deprivation of citizenship cases. When cases do not go before Siac they
receive no judicial scrutiny and often remain hidden from public
scrutiny too – as is the case in the most recent orders.
‘Manipulating the system’
Separately, the Court of Appeal has agreed to hear the case of a
man who lost his British citizenship when he left the country to go on
holiday in 2010. Judges voiced concerns that the order had been an
‘abuse of power’ on the part of the Home Secretary, court transcripts
A Sudanese-born man known only as L1 left the UK in July 2010 with
his four children, all British citizens, and his wife, to spend the
summer holiday in Sudan. Four days later, the UK Border Agency (UKBA)
sent a letter to his London home notifying him that the Home Secretary
intended to strip him of his citizenship on ‘terrorism’ grounds. He had
28 days to appeal.
L1 claimed he did not learn of the letter until the 28-day window had
expired, although UKBA officials insisted they had alerted his brother
to the letter and L1 would have learned of it in time. Siac refused to
allow him to lodge a belated appeal, although Mr Justice Mitting noted:
‘The natural inference, which we draw, from the events described, is
that she [Theresa May] waited until he had left the United Kingdom
before setting the process in train.’
Three Court of Appeal judges have now said at a pre-appeal hearing
that this appeared to be ‘a deliberate exercise… Once they are out of
the country, you then make jolly sure they cannot get back in.’
One judge added: ‘It seems to me, if the Secretary of State is
manipulating the system so as to obstruct access to a right [of appeal
in the UK] that Parliament has given, whether it is fair or not, it is
On this ground alone, the appeal should proceed, the judges decided,
adding they were ‘very troubled’ by the way L1′s citizenship had been
stripped as soon as he left the UK: ‘We cannot really have the Secretary
of State behaving like this,’ they noted.
Bureau presents deprivation of citizenship findings in parliament
UK parltChris Woods, leader of the Bureau’s drone project, gave a presentation yesterday on the Bureau’s recent investigation into stripped citizenship at the all-party parliamentary group on drones, to an audience of MPs, peers and parliamentary staff.
He outlined the cases of Bilal al-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr, childhood friends from London who were stripped of their UK citizenship and went on to die in two US drone strikes a month apart in Somalia.
It is unclear yet whether there is a direct connection between between their loss of citizenship and subsequent deaths, Woods pointed out. He also explored the official opaqueness that surrounds the removal of UK citizenship, and the difficulties many of those who lose their citizenship face in appealing the orders from abroad within the tight time limits.