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Depriving a suspected terrorist of his citizenship is ruled lawful under ECHR

K2 v the United Kingdom (application no. 42387/13)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously declared inadmissible, an application that decisions to deprive the applicant of British citizenship and exclude him from the UK, violated his rights under Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention.

The applicant was born in Sudan and arrived in the UK as a child and later became a naturalised British citizen.  In 2009 he was arrested and charged with a public order offence, but left the UK before he was required to surrender his bail.  There were allegations that he engaged in terrorist activities and was linked to Al-Shabaab.

In June 2010, the Home Secretary notified the applicant of her intention to make an order depriving him of UK citizenship and her decision to exclude him from the UK.  The applicant judicially reviewed the decision to exclude him and appealed against the decision to deprive him of citizenship.  The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) considered the citizenship issue in which the applicant argued that he could refute the allegations of terrorism but was unable to do so if he remained in Sudan.  He feared that his communications were subject to surveillance by Sudanese authorities, and he was at risk of harm.

SIAC rejected this argument and found that the applicant had travelled to Somalia to engage in terrorist activities.  The deprivation of citizenship and exclusion were justified and the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal.  The matter was lodged in the ECtHR in June 2013.  The applicant based his argument on Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention and the Court had to decide two questions:

1.     Whether revocation of citizenship was arbitrary – it was found not to be.  The British Nationality Act 1981 empowers the Home Secretary to make an order depriving a person of British citizenship and the authorities acted diligently and procedural safeguards were in place.  Fears about communications being intercepted were unfounded and on the evidence the applicant had engaged in terrorism.

2.     The consequences for the applicant.  While the decision interfered with the applicant’s private and family life, the interference was limited.  As SIAC had found evidence of terrorist activities the interference was not disproportionate with the legitimate aim of protecting the public from the threat of terrorism.

Read rightsinfo article here.