ISIS, Revoking British Citizenship and UK Domestic Terrorism

“British jihadists ‘should be stripped of citizenship’, says David Davis”

This was one of the articles I read in the Guardian on Monday morning. My first thoughts were, “well unless they’re dual citizens, that’s illegal under international law,” but none the less I read on and to be honest, I see where he is coming from; though let me be very clear, I am not saying I agree with him.


The Law

There are a variety of laws, including the 1954 UN Convention on Stateless Persons and the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, that protect citizens from being rendered stateless. A person can voluntarily renounce their citizenship, which, once made official, would make them a stateless person; but the government cannot legally force someone out of their citizenship.

Politicians are becoming very irritated by this and are looking for ways around this international law.

 “We must face head-on the paradox that these men can burn their British passports on TV and deny their legal allegiance to Britain, yet our nation cannot say to them, in effect: ‘OK, never come back.'”

Revoking UK passports could be how we stop British ISIS fighters from returning to the UK

Revoking UK passports could be how we stop British ISIS fighters from returning to the UK

Possible Solutions

As a British citizen you do not have the right to a passport. You can apply for one but you don’t have a right to have one and that creates the loophole that we have seen the home office use to get around making people stateless. In order to stop people leaving the UK to fight with ISIS we revoke their passports rendering them unable to travel as a passport is required to enter or leave the country.

However, doing this to someone creates a situation identical to that of making them stateless, so I have my doubts over the legality of doing this. So far this has only been used to stop people leaving the UK to fight overseas, not to stop them returning.

Boris Johnson has even suggested that we should assume anybody travelling to areas such as Syria, Iraq etc. is there for terrorist purposes. Obviously a stupid idea

“The police can and do interview the returnees, but it is hard to press charges without evidence. The law needs a swift and minor change so that there is a “rebuttable presumption” that all those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities have done so for a terrorist purpose.”
– Boris Johnson via The Telegraph

Nobody wants to say goodbye to the concept of innocent until proven guilty but it will all depend on how much fear tactics are used…as always. I’m tired of all this “be scared of paedophiles and terrorists, they’re everywhere!” They used those lines for the DRIP bill and we can expect to see them used many times in the future.

What’s more worrying is that this buffoon could be the UK PM in the not so distant future.

By Steve Bell via The Guardian UK

By Steve Bell via The Guardian UK


The Situation

British security services estimate that around 20 Britons leave the UK to fight with terrorist organisations, such as ISIS, each month with around 500 currently there as we speak. They are pressing the concept we should be fearing that once their fight is over in those war torn areas of the world, they will come back to the UK with our country and government in their cross-hairs and their ISIS training in their back pockets. In their eyes, this poses a threat to national security in the sense of domestic terrorism.

I do not think we should dismiss this thought, in fact I think it is something we seriously need to consider as it is a possibility, but I agree with the words of the former MI6 counter-terrorism chief,

“This fundamental tenet of British justice should not be changed even in a minor way for this unproven threat – and it is an unproven threat at the moment,”
– Richard Barrett via The Guardian

Theresa May, our beloved home secretary, has appeared to have announced 3 potential solutions

  • New civil powers (similar to antisocial behaviour orders)
  • Widening the use of banning orders against extremist groups
  • New anti-radicalisation duty for public bodies.

The first has been branded “Asbos for terrorists” by David Davis, a senior conservative back bencher and I find it difficult to disagree with him on this one.

“Asbos for terrorists? It is hard to imagine the Isis killers quaking in their boots.”
– David Davis

The “widening” aspect of the second has been explained to be banning groups or preachers even if “fall short of the legal threshold for terrorist proscription” which was quickly denounced by Barrett,

“The banning of groups that fall short of violent extremism but appear to promote it should follow a clearer analysis of what makes people leave the UK to join a group like the self-described Islamic State. Maybe it will, but if so, I have not seen the analysis and wonder on what it will be based.”
– Richard Barrett

Also, according The Guardian, Barrett is of the opinion that, “tighter rules could curb the free speech of groups whose sermons do not ‘obviously and directly incite to violence’.”


If these kind of ideas, that of Boris Johnson in particular, are adopted through legislation, how do you distinguish between someone going to fight for an extremist organisation and someone, for example, who is going to aid in area as a doctor without borders? As a doctor it is your duty (under the Hippocratic Oath) to help anybody you can regardless of their political or religious affiliations, so you would be obliged to give medical aid to terrorists if they were in need of it. On those grounds, one could very easily argue that someone offering medical assistance to ISIS fighters overseas is assisting a terrorist organisation.

I do not agree with Boris Johnson in the slightest, but many do, and the David Cameron is looking to push forward new legislation to clamp down on people travelling to areas such as Syria and Iraq.
Fortunately I have just read (seconds before posting this) that David Cameron has no interest in perusing Johnson’s idea and has said he will not partake in “kneejerk” responses to ISIS. This is good news, but until we know exactly what the government plan to do, I’m not going to be able to relax about this.

Asked whether the prime minister would be amending legislation, the No 10 spokeswoman said: “The discussions on the level of response are ongoing. Things will need to be looked at. We are very clear that this is a generational struggle that we face where part of this whole challenge will be tackling the ideology too. It is not one about kneejerk response [with] specific proposals. It is about approaching these things – patient and resolute.”

Cameron dismisses Johnson’s ‘presumption of guilt’ terror plan – The Guardian

For once I strongly approve of a Downing Street statement!

However, in general, I’m scared that the government will take this opportunity to increase their domestic terrorism laws and that has certainly not bode well here in the UK in the past and even less so in the US (see the Patriot Act for example and how much that is thrown around to justify total abuse of power).

Time will tell.

 Related articles

British jihadists ‘should be stripped of citizenship’, says David Davis

Former MI6 counter-terrorism chief warns against rush to overhaul UK laws


One thought on “ISIS, Revoking British Citizenship and UK Domestic Terrorism

  1. Pingback: Cameron’s & Clegg’s ‘Anti-Terror’ Package | Serious Severity

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