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Germany

German Court: Citizenship Revocation Legal in Case of Fraud

Germany's high court on Wednesday ruled that officials can revoke someone's citizenship if the person lied during the application process. Lawmakers will now have to regulate what happens to family members in such cases.

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84 German passports, along with citizenship, has been revoked in the last two years

The decision comes just days after the high-profile case of Somalian-born Dutch lawmaker Ayann Hirsi Ali, who had her Dutch citizenship revoked because she had lied during her naturalization process.

The German ruling is based on the case of a man of Nigerian origin, who had lied about his employment status to become a German citizen in 2000: While he had told authorities that he was working at a company, someone else was actually doing the job in his name.

The fraud became apparent when the man was arrested for drug dealing and sentenced to three years in prison. Officials in the city of Pforzheim in southwestern Germany revoked his citizenship as a result. The man consequently sued, saying that Germany's constitution, the Basic Law, prohibited revoking someone's citizenship.

Nazi crimes origi n al reaso n for protectio n

Zweiter Senat des Bundesverfassungsgerichtes Bundesverfassungsgericht

Germany's high court judges

But judges at the Federal Constitutional Court saw things differently. While the constitution protected the German citizenship to prevent arbitrary revocation as it happened in Nazi Germany, judges said that a revocation was possible in case of fraud. They added that this was even the case if the person were to become stateless as a result.

Government officials had argued that a blanket protection of German citizenship status would have delayed the already drawn-out application process even further as every case would have to be checked more carefully. According to officials, 84 citizenships have been revoked during the last two years while 420,000 citizenships were granted.

As a result of the case, high court judges did require German parliamentarians to regulate what will happen to family members of people, who received their German citizenship because of fraud.

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