Download these submissions:
1. Submission to the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Strengthening the Citizenship Loss Provisions) Bill 2018 (PDF, 134 KB, 13 January 2019)
2. Submission to the Review of the Australian Citizenship renunciation by conduct and cessation provisions (PDF, 141 KB, 9 July 2019)
Should Australian dual citizens be able to lose their Australian citizenship under "foreign fighter" laws or other terrorism laws? We don't think so.
Thanks to amendments to the Citizenship Act in 2015, dual citizens may be stripped of their Australian citizenship if they commit a serious terror offence (see section 33A). They don't necessarily have to be notified about losing their citizenship, and it can happen to children aged 14 and over.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) handles inquiries into this sort of legislation. The PJCIS sought comment in late 2018/early 2019 and again in mid-2019 on these citizenship loss provisions.
The 2015 amendments were intended to apply to 'foreign fighters'. In 2018, a bill proposing new amendments was introduced to parliament. The amendments would have:
- made it easier to lose Australian citizenship in this way, by applying the citizenship loss provisions to offences that are comparatively minor and/or poorly defined, including "possessing things connected with terrorist acts"; and
- handed more decision-making power from the courts to the Immigration Minister.
Our first submission above argued against these amendments.
Legal experts and human rights organisations also made submissions recommending that the bill not be passed, and otherwise recommending amendments to make it less of a nightmare. And yet, the PJCIS made just two recommendations: that the bill should be passed, with the provision that it be reviewed before the end of 2020.
The bill was not passed before April 2019, and therefore lapsed when the parliament was dissolved before the May 2019 election.
The PJCIS is now reviewing the citizenship loss legislation. We took the opportunity to argue that the sections added in 2015 should be repealed. Australian citizenship should not be so flimsy.
It is also unclear how the 2015 amendments help to keep Australians safe. If an Australian citizen becomes radicalised, it is Australia's responsibility to stop them from causing harm. By revoking citizenship, we may forfeit our right to enforce Australian laws in these cases.
In both submissions, we stated our support for a Charter of Rights.