March 04, 2022Counter-Terrorism Repatriation Citizenship
These figures track a worrying trend of increased use by the Home Office of its draconian power to deprive people of British nationality. In the ten years between 2006 and 2015, 36 people were deprived of their British nationality on grounds that it was ‘conducive to the public good’ to do so. This is in stark contrast to the 176 people who have been deprived on the same grounds in the five years between 2016 and 2020.
Since 14 December 2020, RSI has been pursuing a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘FOIA’) asking that the Home Office publish the number of people deprived of British nationality in 2019 and 2020 as well as indicate how many of those deprived were women and how many were the parents of minor children. Until now, the Home Office has repeatedly refused to disclose any of the information requested.
The Home Office’s failure to disclose the overall number of people deprived of nationality in 2019 and 2020 in a timely manner has limited public and parliamentary oversight of the Home Office’s power. This has been especially concerning given the government’s proposed expansion of the power in the Nationality and Borders Bill.
Depriving someone of nationality is an extreme measure, which can have a catastrophic impact on their life, including potentially leaving them stateless or exposed to further human rights abuses.
Although the Home Office has finally released the overall numbers for 2019 and 2020, the report does not indicate how many of those deprived of nationality are women or the parents of minor children – notwithstanding that the Home Office has confirmed to RSI that it holds this data.
Without this information, the public and Parliament remain unable to scrutinise the impact of the Home Office’s power to deprive people of British nationality on women and children, at least some of whom the UK appears to have abandoned in camps in northeast Syria.
Research published by RSI has found that, rather than bringing British children and (formerly) British women back to the UK from Syria, the government has abandoned them in torturous conditions where they face serious threats to their lives and wellbeing. Our research suggested that the government has adopted a widespread policy of stripping women in the camps of their British nationality with little or no adherence to fair trial procedures, leaving them and their children stranded in a legal black hole. Our pending FOIA appeal seeks to determine just how many women have been stripped of nationality in these circumstances, and how many children have been affected.
RSI’s appeal against the Home Office’s refusal to disclose how many women were deprived of nationality in 2019 and 2020, as well as how many children were impacted, will be heard before the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) on 11 and 12 May 2022.
Sign up to our mailing list for all the latest news, views and events from Rights and Security International.