By Laura Kemp • 26 January 2022 • 13:36
Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The Court of Appeal ruled that it was unlawful for the Home Office to strip people of their nationality without notice following a challenge from a woman who allegedly became a member of Isis.
The woman, who can only be identified as D4, is in the same Syrian camp as Shamima Begum and did not know that her British citizenship had been stripped for 10 months.
The High Court previously said that the removal of her British citizenship was “void and of no effect” because she was not told, however, the Home Office appealed the ruling.
A ruling today, January 26, saw Lady Justice Whipple state: “There may be good policy reasons for empowering the home secretary to deprive a person of citizenship without giving notice, but such a step is not lawful under this legislation.”
“If the government wishes to empower the secretary in that way, it must persuade parliament to amend the primary legislation. That is what it is currently seeking to do under the Nationality and Borders Bill… it is for parliament to decide.”
The bill would get rid of the requirement to give notice of citizenship removal if the home secretary “does not have the information needed to be able to give notice,” it would “not be reasonably practicable” or was not in the interests of national security.
Members of Isis are believed to make up a large number of at least 150 people who had their British citizenship removed for the “public good” since 2014.
Figures have only been released up until the end of 2019 and an annual report has not been published by the government for nearly two years – no reason has been given for the delay.
The court heard that D4 has been held in the al-Roj camp since January 2019 with other women and children who were captured while leaving Isis territory.
In December 2019, the minister stripped her of her UK citizenship without formally informing her until October 2020 when solicitors asked the government to repatriate her and were refused.
She then appealed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission for the High Court to review the decision.
The law states that the government “must give the person written notice” of a decision to remove citizenship, giving reasons for it and notifying them of their right to appeal.
The Home Office changed regulations in 2018 on how notice can be given if someone’s whereabouts are not known, there is no address to send documents to and they do not have a lawyer.
Under these new rules, notice of a decision to revoke a person’s citizenship was “deemed to have been given” if the Home Office made a record of it and had it on file.
Mr Justice Chamberlain remarked: “As a matter of ordinary language, you do not ‘give’ someone ‘notice’ of something by putting the notice in your desk drawer and locking it. No-one who understands English would regard that purely private act as a way of ‘giving notice’.”
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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