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Australian government to deprive terrorists of citizenship

Dual-national terrorists and their supporters could automatically lose their Australian citizenship under a new bill, which the government has put before parliament. The opposition seems broadly in favor as well.

The so-called Allegiance to Australia law, presented to parliamentarians in Canberra on Wednesday, could target children of extremists fighting overseas, and even people who have never left the country.

The legislature would strip citizenship from any Australian dual nationals convicted of terrorism or found to be engaged in terrorist activity, immigration minister Peter Dutton told the parliament while introducing the bill.

At the same time, the law is aimed against people training to join a terrorist group, recruiting for them, or simply financing one of the organizations considered terrorist by the government.

"Citizenship is to be treasured. It's a common bond that unites us all, whether we were born here or chose to make Australia our home," Dutton said. "The world has changed, so our laws should change accordingly."

Yet, the new legislation would not target people who only have Australian citizenship, as that would render them stateless. Such acts would be against UN conventions, Dutton said.

Loss of citizenship 'immediate'

The children of dual nationals are also at risk, but could claim their Australian nationality via the other parent.

"Automatic loss of citizenship will be triggered whether the conduct takes place inside or outside Australia," Dutton declared Wednesday. "The loss of citizenship will be immediate upon the person engaging in the relevant conduct."

Authorities are still only consulting about rights of people holding only Australian citizenship.

The opposition party, Labor, is generally in favor of the new regulation, which is to be examined by a parliamentary committee before voting.

Canberra believes that around 120 Australians are fighting with jihadist groups in the Middle East, half of them being dual nationals.

dj/msh (AFP, AP)

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