It was lawful to strip a terror suspect of his citizenship, judges at the European Court of Human Rights have ruled.
A Sudanese man, known only at K2, had claimed his human right to respect for private and family life was breached after then Home Secretary Theresa May revoked his citizenship while he was abroad.
So, what’s the back story here?
After arriving in the UK as a child, K2 became a naturalised citizen in 2000. Nine years later he was charged with a public order offence, but before he was required to surrender his bail he left the country. There is a dispute over whether went directly to Sudan or went via Somalia, where he took part in terrorism-related activities linked to a group known as Al-Shabaab.
In 2010 Theresa Map MP, in her role as Home Secretary, made a order taking away his UK citizenship. She also notified him he would be excluded from the country, as a result of his terrorism-related activities and links to extremists.
What did the judges say?
The judges unanimously decided the Government was within its rights to revoke K2’s citizenship, adding Mrs May had “acted swiftly and diligently, and in accordance with the law”. While the case just looked at K2, it will have implications for wider policy in the UK.
The power to take away citizenship comes from the British Nationality Act 1981, but had been little used until Mrs May stepped into the role as Home Secretary. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, she deprived at least 33 people of their British citizenship during her time as Home Secretary.
Some critics had said the government were “washing their hands” of suspected terrorists, however, the ruling means the Government will be more likely to use the tactic in the future.
Want to know more about this story?
- Check out our infographic on the right to private and family life
- Read the ruling from the European Court of Human Rights
- See a feature on whether Apple should unlock a terrorist’s iPhone