Tag Archive | "citizenship"

Source: Financial Times

Citizenship issues for returning ISIS fighters

Source: Financial Times

Source: Financial Times

In recent years, more and more countries across Europe and the United States have been running into legal issues in deciding whether or not to strip returning ISIS fighters and their families of their citizenship. After the collapse of ISIS’ caliphate, those members, who joined ISIS from Western countries, are now trying to return to their home countries. An estimated 6,000 European nationals joined ISIS over the last few years.[1] And an estimated 300 joined from the United States.[2] This leads the governments of returnee citizens to worry about, not only the implications of letting them return in terms of consequences for their actions, but also the risk of returnees further radicalizing and influencing other individuals in society, or even in prison.

Most recently, the question of legality of the practice of not allowing ISIS fighters to return, came up when two women who joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq were trying to return to their respective countries, the United Kingdom and the United States. President Trump instructed the State Department not to allow the U.S.-born woman to re-enter the U.S., after she left for Syria from Alabama in 2014, where she is currently retained in a Kurdish camp.[3] Meanwhile, Home Secretary Javid, of the U.K., has moved to revoke citizenship for a woman who is begging to return to the U.K., after leaving four years ago, to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria.[4]

Most countries of returning fighters have been struggling with how to deal with these issues. The European Union has been adamant on keeping ISIS returnees as far away as possible, leaving hundreds of E.U. citizens in Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) camps for captured fighters. The main reason for this E.U. practice is that it would be tremendously difficult to prosecute these foreign fighters in E.U. courts, as the burden of proving foreign terrorist involvement would rely very heavily on evidence from and investigations in a conflict zone.[5] A related cause for European governments is that, even if there is limited evidence, this so called ‘battlefield evidence’ would not be admissible in court, due to the manners in which it would have been obtained.[6]

Another reason European countries specifically want to keep returnees away, is that governments are not allowed to strip persons of their citizenship, as no person is to be without citizenship of a country, as Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a nationality”.[7] The German government decided that it will, under this human right, strip dual-citizens who fought for ISIS and other terrorist groups of their German citizenship, arguing that, because those individuals are still left with the other citizenship, it is lawful, although not retroactively.[8]

As of the date of this article, governments of France, Germany, and the U.K. are looking to fellow countries’ courts, awaiting decisions on these cases; but are so far reviewing them on a case-by-case basis, trying to prosecute and rehabilitate these foreign fighters, without violating their Human Rights.[9]

Vanessa Jacobsen is a 2L at University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

[1]Joana Cook & Gina Vale, From Daesh to ‘Diaspora’: Tracing then Women and Minors of Islamic State, International Centre for the Study of Radicalization, 2018, https://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Women-in-ISIS-report_20180719_web.pdf.

[2]Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens et al., The Travelers – American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq, Program on Extremism, 2018, https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/TravelersAmericanJihadistsinSyriaandIraq.pdf.

[3]Joseph Hincks,How ISIS Returnees Are Stirring a Debate Over Citizenship, Security and Rule of Law, TIME, 2019, http://time.com/5534674/shamima-begum-hoda-muthana-isis/.


[5]Anthony Dworkin, In legal limbo: EU Returnees in the post-ISIS Era, European Council on Foreign Relations, 2019, https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_in_legal_limbo_eu_returnees_in_the_post_isis_era.

[6]Rachel Kennedy, What is Europe’s approach to repatriating ISIS members?, Euronews, Mar. 7, 2019,https://www.euronews.com/2019/03/07/what-is-europe-s-approach-to-repatriating-isis-members-euronews-answers.

[7]G.A. Resolution (III) 217 A at art. 15(1), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10, 1948).

[8]Germany to Strip Dual-Nationals Who Fight for Isis of Citizenship, Financial Times, https://www.ft.com/content/1c929f90-3e6b-11e9-9bee-efab61506f44.

[9]Rachel Kennedy, supranote 6.

Posted in DJILP Online, DJILP Staff, Featured Articles, Vanessa JacobsenComments (0)


Critical Analysis: Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Ruling and Status of Immigrants

On September 23, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court made an interpretative ruling that shook the Hispaniola Island. A child born on Dominican soil without one parent of Dominican blood or foreign parents with legal residency is not a Dominican citizen. In 2004, the court held that “in transit” includes all persons without legal residency. Thus, parents considered “in transit” or illegal immigrants are not Dominican citizens, and the children born from these parents, dating back to 1929, cannot have Dominican citizenship.


Haitians in a market in the Dominican capital Santo Domingo (Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty Images)

The ruling effects all immigrants in the Dominican Republic, not just Haitians. However, at least eighty percent of Dominican immigrants are Haitian. It is no secret that Haitians are the predominate immigrants in the Dominican, which leads many spectators to believe the Dominican court targeted Haitians: a flashback to 1937, when Dictator Rafael Trujillo attempted to eliminate Haitians from the Dominican. Several reporters cite over 200,000 Haitians are stateless due to the ruling. Conversely, based on the numbers provided by the United States Dominican Embassy via the national civil registry, less than 20,000 Haitians are effected by the ruling; furthermore, they will not be stateless. A person is only stateless if no country will recognize and grant citizenship. Haiti’s constitution has been interpreted to grant citizenship to those of Haitian blood regardless of where the person was born. Thus, Haitian immigrants will not be stateless.

Even though the ruling cannot be appealed, the Dominican government plans to establish a naturalization law. Moreover, Dominican President Danilo Medina announced a humanitarian approach will be applied, allowing eighteen months for all undocumented foreigners to register and prove eligibility for residency to avoid deportation.

Was the Dominican court wrong in its Constitutional ruling? Perhaps the ruling was more extreme than necessary, but a step to control immigration is necessary.

Rarely is birth on any country’s soil alone enough to gain citizenship. The Dominican is no different. If an immigrant does not speak Spanish, work, own property or a home, the Dominican is less likely to grant citizenship to the immigrant. Citizenship is business. No business wants to employ or have clients that do not benefit the business. When a country has a say, the country wants the immigrants that benefit the country. A country, small like the Dominican, cannot progress if illegal immigrants that do not contribute to the economy are allowed citizenship.

Is it right to ostracize a third-world country for a ruling, which if ruled by a leading country, would receive little backlash? Perhaps, this is how the world’s checks and balances function: never let a lower country make a move reserved for higher countries.

Due to the inaccuracies in information and range of predictions, it is clear that the Dominican government needs to release a statement—to explain the court’s ruling and its effects. More likely than not the government is at a loss itself and cannot offer clarity. However, this is a time for the government to stand strong and make executive decisions. Is the ruling stripping immigrants of citizenship, if the immigrant was granted citizenship prior to the ruling? Is the ruling only effecting those who are not and have never been citizens—regardless of the individuals assumed citizenship? What actions can an immigrant take to gain citizenship or avoid deportation? Will a naturalization law be implemented before deportation occurs? The Dominican government cannot afford to remain silent much longer, it needs to stand up.

Cheyenne Moore is a 1L at the University of Denver and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. 

Posted in Cheyenne Moore, DJILP Online, DJILP Staff, Featured ArticlesComments (0)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law