Citizens of Nowhere: Maintaining Civil Liberties when faced with Terror

Oral intervention to be given by the Next Century Foundation at the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Item 3 Clustered ID on 1st March 2018, the special report on terrorism:

Mr President. The Next Century Foundation understands the tremendous pressure faced by nations that have to combat the nefarious forces of international terrorism but is concerned at the use of suspension of citizenship as a measure to counter extremism. While this pragmatic approach may have advantages in the short term, it is simply a band-aid that masks the underlying problem.

All persons of good conscience stress the importance of creating a society that everyone is a part of regardless of cultural, religious or historical heritage. Two nations that particularly foster and cherish the notions of tolerance and inclusivity are the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Kingdom of Bahrain. Both aspire to build a world in which all citizens are equally valued and whose rights are equally upheld. Both nations have ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However both nations continue to use the suspension of citizenship as a tool. Citizenship is an inalienable right to which every individual is entitled, and the removal of citizenship should not be wielded as a punishment even when terrorism provokes national outrage. Indeed doing so may further galvanise individuals that are already on the fringes of society into extreme action.

We do not wish to underestimate the difficulty the UK faces with returning UK-born ISIS fighters, nor do we wish to underestimate the anger provoked by instances of bloodshed and sectarian violence in Bahrain. But by depriving individuals of their citizenship, these nations are forsaking civil liberties in the pursuit of security and setting a dangerous precedent. We appeal to both the UK and Bahrain to adopt other more considered measures when it comes to dealing with extremists in their midst.

It is only through the creation of a more tolerant global society that we can truly combat extremism. Thank you.


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