SIDNEY – The Australian Government passed a new law Thursday that would strip dual nationals convicted or suspected of terror offences of citizenship. Attorney-General George Brandis, however, said Friday that the legislation would apply in “very limited circumstances.”
The bill, which received approval from both sides of the upper house, updated the current law in accordance with “the new age of terrorism,” Brandis said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Some 90 Australians are reportedly fighting terrorist groups like the Islamic State group, and nearly half of those are believed to possess dual citizenship.
“The legislation will strip Australian citizenship from dual citizens who are involved in terrorist conduct overseas or convicted of a terrorism offence in Australia,” Brandis reportedly said. “It will also ensure terrorists who are dual nationals are prevented from returning to Australia and dual nationals who engage in terrorism within Australia can be removed where possible.”
According to Brandis, the law will not leave people stateless.
The government had amended the bill, introduced to the lower house in June, to survive challenges in the Australian High Court, BBC reported.
Stephen Blanks, president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, said that Australia would be violating its international obligations if it sent people back to countries where they were harassed. “It’s not going to have any real impact on solving the problem,” Banks told AFP.
In November, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that the threat of people returning from Syria and Iraq who have been involved with ISIS was “very real.” However, Muslim rights activists in Australia at the time criticized the new government’s continued support of the bill saying it contradicted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s emphasis on re-engaging with the Islamic community.