Citizenship stripping as a counter-terrorism measure is inefficient

Published 18 October 2018

Image taken from Pixabay.

Several states have been revoking citizenships of their nationals as a way to fight terrorism. In Bahrain, for example, authorities have revoked hundreds of citizenships since 2012. Just today, the public prosecution in Bahrain ruled to revoke six additional citizenships bringing the total in 2018 alone to 243.

Asser senior researcher and ICCT research fellow Dr Christophe Paulussen has also referred to the Bahraini case in his recently published ICCT Perspective “Countering Terrorism Through the Stripping of Citizenship: Ineffective and Counterproductive”.

In the Perspective he examines the scope and nature of citizenship stripping as a counter-terrorism measure and argues that it stands out in comparison to other counter-terrorism measures. This is because of its highly symbolic nature, its far-reaching effects, as well as its emphasis on ‘addressing’ the problem by making it the problem of other states. If people are expelled after they have been deprived of their citizenship, or if they can no longer enter their former country of nationality because they are no longer allowed in, that person becomes the problem of another state.

In fact, citizenship stripping is not only moving the problem around like a hot potato, but may even make the problem worse. In his paper, Dr Paulussen also argues that researchers should become more effective at engaging with politicians and policy makers in this discussion. At the same time, it is the task of politicians to explain to their voters that 100% security is simply unobtainable. Politicians are called upon to clearly assess the effectiveness of certain measures before they are adopted, thereby considering the international and long-term perspective, as well as all the norms and values that we stand for.

To read the full Perspective click here.