RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

writing for godot

Teresa May and the excommunication of Brits

Written by Dr Mohammed Ilyas   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 01:39
Teresa May and the excommunication of Brits

President Barack Obama in his State of Union address indicated that 2014 should be the year Guantanamo Bay was closed. If Obama follows through with this, he will bring to an end twelve years of indefinite detention and interrogation of detainees. The US government defines the detainees as ‘unlawful combatants’ and therefore contends that they are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. Italian political theorist has called Guantanamo Bay a modern day ‘zone of indistinction’, drawing comparison to refugee and concentration camps. The zone is an interstitial space, where the detainees are reduced to ‘bare life’ and stripped of legal status. Resulting in them being un-nameable and un-classifiable and therefore open to abuse and torture.

While on the other side of the pond, the British Home Secretary, Teresa May has tabled a late amendment to the Immigration Bill to deal with the threat posed by British citizens to UK security. This is part of the indefinite ‘war on terror’ and will continue to circumvent due process in order to deal with suspects.

Teresa May’s intervention is aimed to prevent British citizens (naturalized) from perpetrating terrorist attacks in the UK. If approved she will have sweeping powers to revoke the citizenship of individuals whose ‘conduct is deemed by the government as being, seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK’, even if they have not been convicted of any offence. It seems that only evidence that is needed is ‘suspicion’ of one: posing a threat to national security, suspected of being involved in terrorism, espionage and taking up arms against British or allied forces, in addition to actions that undermine British values.

The Bureau of investigative Journalism has reported, ‘since 2002, 41 people have been stripped of their British nationality. Thirty-six of these cases have occurred under the Coalition government. Almost all of them lost their citizenship on national security grounds, often based on evidence, which remains secret.
Previously, only dual nationals could be stripped of their British citizenship. In light of the amendment, stateless individuals would be forced to seek citizenship in other countries. If this is not possible, according Teresa May normal immigration procedures will kick in. In cases where citizenship has been revoked while the individual is abroad, he or she will not be able to gain reentry to the UK, therefore making it very difficult, if impossible to challenge the decision. An added risk for such individuals is that they could be renditioned to face trial or be killed by a third country, as evidenced by the cases of Mahdi Hashi and Mohamed Sakr.

Teresa May vs human rights organisations

The proposed amendment has already started a debate between the government and human rights organisations about its rights and wrongs.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said that: ‘Liberty always said that terror suspects should be charged and tried. First politicians avoided trials for foreign nationals; now they seek the same for their own citizens. This move is as irresponsible as it is unjust. It would allow British governments to dump dangerous people on the international community, but equally to punish potential innocent political dissenters without charge or trial. There is the edge of populist madness and then the abyss.

A spokesman for the charity Reprieve commenting on the latest amendment said: ‘this is a very alarming development, which reverses a long-standing ban on citizenship stripping where doing so would leave someone stateless. It would give the Home Secretary the power to tear up people’s passports without any need for the kind of due process we might once have expected as British citizens. The concern is that this is all part of the wider excesses of the US-led ‘war on terror’: once someone has been rendered stateless, it becomes much easier to subject them to execution-by-drone, without the inconvenience of legal consequences.
The amendment has been carefully crafted, as not to breach the UN treaty on the prevention of statelessness. Under this treaty the government has reserved the right to make an exception, if someone has engaged in something that ‘seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the state.

Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington stated that the amendment would produce to classes of British Citizenship, which is a dangerous road to go down.

Where will these stateless persons go and how will they be treated?

If we accept that the amendment will be approved, it then raises two inter-related questions concerning what will happen to those persons rendered as non-citizens: where will these persons go and will they be protected by human rights.

Option one: It is unlikely that many states would offer residency to individuals deemed as have connection with terrorism. Therefore, it is possible that a third country (this could be the country of the individuals parents or grandparents) could be paid by the British government to give excommunicated British citizens a new identity and residency. Although there is no identical precedent for what I contend, but some criminals have been given a new life and identity after being released from prison. The most well known case of such protection is that of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who murdered James Bulger in 1993. Through this offloading, the government will relinquish all responsibility for the future treatment of former citizens.

Option two: individuals that are suspected of having fought in, trained or financed groups in conflict zones such as Syria are sent back, at the request of the governments, to face trial for terrorism offences. Like the first option there are precedents, such as the case of Abu Hamaza. This enables the British government to relinquish responsibility over how these individuals are treated, regardless of any agreement that is signed.

Option three: a Guantanamo Bay type camp to house excommunicated citizens is established. This would involve all those countries that presently have citizens fighting in foreign conflicts, or are members/affiliates of groups that are considered as posing a threat to national security. The countries I am referring to include European and Muslim, North American and Australia. Like Guantanamo Bay, the camp will be a zone of indistinction and for which a parallel legal system will have to be created, circumventing local, regional and international laws. The detainees in the camp will be considered as unlawful combatants because they are stateless and belonging to terrorist groups, they will be indefinitely detained, he or she will not legally exist because of their statelessness. Not legally existing means that the detainees are unlikely to be protected by the Geneva Conventions or human rights. your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.