Dutch Gov retracts citizenship from Jihadists

The duality of dual citizenship
The duality of dual citizenship

The Dutch Government has announced that it will retract the citizenship from four known Jihadists who took part in military actions under the IS banner in Syria. Now this may appear fair and reasonable at the surface but is there a catch to it...

Recently legislation in the Netherlands has been changed that allows for the government to retract citizenship from individuals that actively serve in foreign military and have a dual nationality. 

A sizeable portion of the Dutch population comprises of citizens with dual nationality. Mostly of Moroccan and Turkish descent. According to different sources somewhere between 200 and 500 people have made the trip to the Syrian war zone.

The four individuals currently implied in the measure will now lose their Dutch citizenship, which will leave them with one passport only. That of Morocco in this case. They will also be declared ‘illegal alien’ which means they no longer can enter or stay in the country proper.

The reasoning behind this measure is that the individuals involved do not represent the core values of Dutch society by entering military service in a foreign country, specifically by partaking in the Syrian conflict.

The problem with the legislation so far had been that IS is not recognised as an official state. Until the recent change in the law, only active military service on behalf of foreign nation state was implicated. This unlawful service was deemed equal to desertion and dealt with accordingly.

The new measure of retracting citizenship from ‘dual passport Jihadists’ may seem reasonable and plausible but there is a catch to it.

The recently modified law covers not only ‘convicted’ individuals but also ‘suspect’. A citizen suspect of aiding and providing military service to nation states and/or recognised terrorist organisations has become liable to persecution.

This broadens the scope of the application of the law. One might argue that it stretches the limit of the law too far. For what is a ‘suspect’? When does one become ‘suspect’? Beyond reasonable doubt, surely. But if an individual is suspect beyond reasonable doubt, then why not try and convict him in the court of law?

A similar situation and proceedings occurred after WW2 when thousands of Dutch citizens were convicted of serving in the German military, were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

What actions cause one to become 'suspect' under the given circumstances? Travel documents related to the conflict zone? A single flight ticket to Syria? Enlistment papers? Attending religious services at a mosque of a known hate speaking imam? Appearing on an IS social media video post? Hearsay? Betrayal? Eyewitness reports or testimonies?

It is a known fact from the Afghan conflict that a lot of ‘convicts’ who ended up in Guantanamo Bay where betrayed by their countrymen for money or to settle old tribal disputes.

A paradigm shift.

The ‘suspect’ ruling, regardless of reasonable doubt clauses or careful policing simply doesn’t feel right. It appears to leave too much room for error. In extremis a significant part of the population comprising of hundreds of thousands of people are liable to become suspect. This is no exaggeration, but a watershed moment, a shift of the legal paradigm.

The legal tradition that has been established over centuries and safeguarded in the constitution, acting law and precedence jurisprudence is one of ‘innocent unless proven guilty’ and ‘proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt’. This change of the law veers away from that age old legal tradition.

Do you know the current legislation in your country with regard to this topic?

The duality of dual citizenship.

Regardless of the legal debate and its implications, a ‘suspect’ ruling or retraction of the dual citizenship could never have happened, if it were not allowed in the first place.

It could not have happened, in fact, it should not have happened.

It should not have happened that every new born of Moroccan ancestry born in the Netherlands is automatically registered as citizen of their mother country as well. This is not in particular a Dutch case. It happens in countries all over the world.

jus sanguinis - the principle that a person's nationality at birth is the same as that of his natural parents

jus soli - the principle that a person's nationality at birth is determined by the place of birth

Two legal principles that rule each other out. Neither is good, bad or better or worse than the other one. They are a matter of choice. Either one is applied and made into the law of a sovereign nation state. When properly applied these principles leave no room for dual citizenship. 

How does citizen registration work in your country?

It can be argued that dual citizenship potentially creates a dual allegiance issue. What if the ancestral country and country of birth or residence enter into a major conflict, even war? How would that work out for soldiers, politicians or government officials with two passports? The issue of dual allegiance cannot be discarded as merely hypothetical.

Being a natively born citizen of my country having only one passport, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the issue of dual citizenship. I can only imagine that if I were to migrate to another country with the intent to call it my new home, then it would only make sense for me to forfeit my current citizenship. I would want to become a full citizen of my new home in all its aspects. 

Yes, by forfeiting my current status I would lose a lot of benefits that come with the current passport. But changing nationality would not be a monetary issue, rather one of allegiance. A moral issue if you like.

It seems to me that any policy or law that allows for duality is improper and prone to be abused, regardless of its good and sound intentions.