European Court of Human Rights Decides UK Did Not Violate Human Rights When it Revoked Terror Suspect’s Citizenship

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that there was no human rights violation in the United Kingdom’s decision to strip a terror suspect of his British citizenship while outside the country to prevent him from returning home.

The case brought before the Court was from a Sudan-born British citizen who was stripped of his citizenship while he was in Sudan in 2010. His case before the ECHR was based on the right to family life, which is included in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2009, he left the United Kingdom, and before arriving in Sudan, he is suspected of traveling first to Somalia and participating “in terrorism-related activities linked to al-Shabaab.” The suspect claims he traveled directly to Sudan. He was notified while in Sudan that his British citizenship had been revoked.

The government’s power to take away the citizenship of a dual national terror suspect is included in the British Nationality Act 1981, but in 2014, with concerns growing about British fighters returning from Syria, it “was extended from covering just dual nationals to those who ‘there were reasonable grounds to consider that they could be eligible for another nationality,'” reports The Guardian.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, faced fierce criticism of the policy, which she first proposed when serving as home secretary. Critics argued the new policy would leave people stateless and therefore could violate international obligations. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, has also called on France to strip terror suspects with dual nationality of their passports. She has also said she is against French citizens having dual nationality, if the second nationality is not “European.”

“The Strasbourg human rights ruling is likely to encourage Home Office ministers to make greater use of their power to exclude terror suspects even if they are British citizens,” The Guardian reports. 

You can read the Court’s full decision here. Also, watch this space — we’ll have further commentary and analysis soon.

Image: Getty

 

About the Author(s)

Kate Brannen

Editorial Director of Just Security; nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council; previously senior reporter covering the Pentagon for Foreign Policy Follow her on Twitter (@K8brannen).