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Germany

German interior minister: Expatriate terror suspects

The German constitution stipulates that no person shall be made stateless, so Thomas de Maizière wants to confiscate the passports and revoke the citzenship of German jihadists with dual nationalities.

Article 16 reads: "No German may be deprived of his citizenship." Yet a decisive exception appears in the very next line: "Citizenship may be lost only pursuant to a law, and against the will of the person affected only if he does not become stateless as a result."

Nevertheless, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière now wants to revoke the citizenship of Islamic fighters that have traveled to Syria and Iraq on German passports. The Interior Ministry is calling for a new law allowing authorities to expatriate fighters who possess a second passport.

Deutschland Innenminister Thomas de Maizière (picture-alliance/dpa/W. Kumm)

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

It is thought that a number of the 870 terrorist fighters identified by the Federal Criminal Office (BKA) have dual citizenship. The new law would only affect those "German jihadists" in possession of an additional nationality. Ultimately, the measure will only affect a relatively small group of people with legal dual citizenship.

As it stands, the German government can already confiscate passports or personal identification cards if there is reason to believe that the holder intends to use it to leave the country to engage in terrorist activities. The planned new proposal apparently builds on existing rules regarding the citizenship rights of soldiers. Paragraph 28 of the German constitution states that soldiers who join foreign armies without the expressed permission of the German army will immediately forfeit their citizenship. Now, the same rule is to apply to terrorist militants.

Interior Minister de Maizière first broached the issue of revoking citizenship back in August, when he introduced a list of measures to be taken in reaction to terror attacks in Germany. The current proposal has garnered criticism from the CDU's coalition partner, the SPD. Eva Högl, SPD deputy parliamentary group leader and domestic security expert, complained that the proposal contradicts the established principle of simply confiscating passports. She told the Essen-based Funke Mediengruppe that criminals must be punished in Germany. Further, she says she is worried that IS fighters' reputations may be given a political boost if they are treated as disloyal soldiers from the armies of foreign countries.

 

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