Australia proposes stripping native-born extremists of citizenship

(AFP)
Updated 22 November 2018

Australia proposes stripping native-born extremists of citizenship

  • Australia’s current Citizenship Act allows authorities to revoke citizenship from people only if they are already dual nationals
  • The government’s proposed citizenship crackdown is certain to worsen tensions with parts of Australia’s large Muslim community

SYDNEY: Australia unveiled a radical plan on Thursday to strip convicted terrorists of their citizenship even if they are native-born Australians.
Acting after a series of militant-inspired plots and attacks in the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government needed expanded powers to withdraw citizenship from anyone found guilty of terrorist activity.
“People who commit acts of terrorism have rejected absolutely everything that this country stands for,” Morrison told a hastily organized press conference.
“This is something that can’t be tolerated, and for those who would engage in this sort of activity, and they have citizenship elsewhere, or we have reason to believe they do, they can go.”
Australia’s current Citizenship Act allows authorities to revoke citizenship from people jailed for six years or more for terrorist activities, but only if they are already dual nationals.
Morrison called these limits “unrealistic” and said the law should be broadened so that anyone convicted of a terrorist offense, even native-born Australians, could be expelled if they could “reasonably” be expected to gain citizenship in another country through their parents or grandparents.
The conservative government will submit legislation to amend the Citizenship Act to enshrine these new powers by the end of the year, he said.
The legislation will also seek the power to impose “temporary exclusion orders” on so-called “returned foreign fighters” — Australian citizens who travel to conflict zones to fight alongside extremist groups.
Modelled on a British law, the provision would allow Australia to bar the return of a citizen for up to two years, and to impose strict conditions on their activities once they come home.
Morrison’s action came two days after police in Melbourne arrested three Australian-born men of Turkish descent for allegedly plotting a mass shooting in the city.
Less than two weeks earlier, another man who was born in Somalia but came to Australia with his family as a child, went on a stabbing rampage in Melbourne, killing one man and wounding two others before being fatally shot by police.
Authorities said all four men were inspired by militant propaganda from the Daesh group, even though none had any direct links to an extremist organization.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said there had been seven terror-related attacks in Australia since 2014, while authorities had thwarted 15 other plots.
Nine convicted terrorists have already had their citizenship revoked under existing law, he added.
“We assess there are around 50 Australian dual citizens who may be eligible to lose citizenship under the current provisions, and even more with the changes we are announcing today,” Dutton said.
The government’s proposed citizenship crackdown is certain to worsen tensions with parts of Australia’s large Muslim community.
Several Islamic leaders already boycotted a proposed meeting with Morrison this week after he said the community needed to do more to police extremists in their ranks.


Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

Updated 13 October 2019

Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

  • EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson played down hopes Sunday of a breakthrough in his last-ditch bid to strike an amicable divorce deal with the European Union.
Negotiators went behind closed doors for intensive talks in Brussels after Johnson outlined a new set of proposals to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday.
They have very little time left to succeed.
EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline just two weeks away.
The 27 would ideally like to have a full proposal to vote on by then.
But the sides are trying to achieve in a few days what they had failed to in the more than three years since Britons first voted to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier called the weekend negotiations “constructive” enough to keep going for another day.
“A lot of work remains to be done,” Barnier stressed in a statement to EU ambassadors.
“Discussions at technical level will continue (Monday).”
Downing Street said Johnson also told his cabinet to brace for a cliff-hanger finish.
He reiterated “that a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
Johnson rose to power in July on a promise not to extend Brexit for a third time this year — even for a few weeks.
Breaking that pledge could come back to haunt him in an early general election that most predict for the coming months.
Johnson is under parliamentary orders to seek a extension until January 31 of next year if no deal emerges by Saturday.
He has promised to both follow the law and get Britain out by October 31 — a contradiction that might end up being settled in court.
Outgoing EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said British politics were getting more difficult to decipher than the riddle of an “Egyptian sphinx.”
“If the British ask for more time, which they probably will not, it would in my view be a historical nonsense to refuse them,” Juncker told Austria’s Kurier newspaper.
Ireland’s Varadkar hinted on Thursday that he could support the talks running on up to the October 31 deadline if a deal seemed within reach.
The few details that have leaked out suggest a compromise around the contentious Irish border issue Britain’s Northern Ireland partially aligned with EU customs rules.
Whether such a fudge suits both Brussels and the more ardent Brexit backers in parliament who must still approve a deal should become clearer by the end of the week.
Britain will only avoid a chaotic breakup with its closest trading partners if the agreement is also passed by the UK parliament — something it has failed to do three times.
Johnson heads a minority government and must rely on the full backing of not only his own fractured Conservatives but also Northern Ireland’s small Democratic Unionist Party.
DUP’s parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds warned Johnson that “Northern Ireland must remain entirely in the customs union of the United Kingdom” and not the EU.
“And Boris Johnson knows it very well,” Dodds told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.
The comments do not necessarily rule out DUP support.
UK media are presenting Johnson’s mooted compromise as a “double customs” plan that could be interpreted to mean that Northern Ireland is leaving EU rules.
Yet details are still under discussion and the prime minister’s allies are urging lawmakers to give the British leader a chance.
Main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn signalled Sunday that he would wait for the outcome of the EU summit before trying to force an early election.
But he added that there was “a strong possibility” that those polls would come before the Christmas break.