British fighters in Syria stripped of UK citizenship
Britain has stripped the nationality of 20 dual-nations who have traveled to join fighting in crisis-torn Syria this year, it was revealed on Monday.
Home Secretary Theresa May targeted the 20 individuals who had been using “deprivation of citizenship orders,” records uncovered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show.
Under the British Nationality Act, “deprivation of citizenship orders” can be made without judicial approval and take immediate effect.
Up to 240 Britons are believed to be in Syria, according to the records, published in The Independent.
In response to the news, a statement from the British Home Office said: “Citizenship is a privilege, not a right, and the home secretary will remove British citizenship from individuals where she feels it is conducive to the public good to do so.
“The government will take all necessary steps to protect the public,” the statement added.
The move marks an increase in the use of Home Office powers, which had only previously been deployed 17 times in two-and-a-half years.
Almost all of the orders made this year, which do not need judicial approval, were issued while the Britons were overseas.
The Bureau quoted a former senior Foreign Office official as saying it was an "open secret” that British nationals fighting in the Syrian civil war were increasingly losing their citizenship.
He told the Bureau: “This [deprivation of citizenship] is happening. There are somewhere between 40 and 240 Brits in Syria, and we are probably not as quick as we should be to strip their citizenship.”
“Ms. May is understood to have discussed plans to boost her powers by inserting an amendment into the Immigration Bill which would allow her to remove the citizenship of British nationals who have renounced their previous citizenship but are accused of acts ‘seriously prejudicial to the vital interests’ of the UK,” the newspaper reported.