LONDON: The government has refused to reveal how many people have been deprived of their British citizenship in the past two years after dramatically increasing its use of controversial powers to prevent the return of Isis members.
The number of people subjected to the measure rose by more than 600 per cent in 2017, despite an official review warning that it might be an “ineffective and counter-productive weapon against terrorism”, the Independent has reported.
An official “transparency” report containing statistics on citizenship deprivations was due for release last summer but has not yet been published, and the Home Office refused to give the newspaperupdated figures.
Officials would not give a reason for the delay, meaning that no new information has been released for 18 months. The situation is no clearer in Syrian prisons holding Isis members, where British inmates interviewed recently by The Independent said they had not been told whether they were still UK citizens.
Some asked journalists to request information from the government on their behalf, while others found out through media reports that they had been stripped of British nationality. Campaigners said the government’s silence suggested that it has “something to hide”, amid legal challenges and allegations that it has broken international law by making people stateless.
After teenage Isis supporter Shamima Begum – who this week lost the first stage of a legal challenge against the decision to revoke her British citizenship – was found in Syria last year, the then home secretary, Sajid Javid, said she was one of about 150 people to be deprived of their citizenship since 2010.
However, that figure only includes the total until the end of 2017, which was published in July 2018 as part of the government’s most recent Transparency Report on Disruptive and Investigatory Powers. The document showed that citizenship deprivations were used only a handful of times a year, until rocketing from 14 in 2016 to 104 in 2017.