Opinion on Clause 60 of UK Immigration Bill and Article 8 of UN Convention on Reducing Statelessness

The Open Society Justice Initiative is urging members of the upper house of the British parliament to reject a government proposal that would allow British citizens to be made stateless, undermining an important principle of international law.

An amendment to the Immigration Bill, now before the House of Lords, would enable the government to strip citizenship from individuals who have acquired British citizenship by naturalization, and then acted with serious prejudice to the vital interests of the UK, even in cases where this would leave the individual stateless. This fact sheet summarizes the main issues at stake.

This legal opinion examines whether the United Kingdom’s obligations under Article 8 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness preclude it from depriving persons of UK nationality on ‘public good’ grounds where this would make a person stateless, given the UK’s 2003 repeal of the statutory power to do this.

We conclude that a court would have good grounds to determine that the right retained by the UK by its declaration under Article 8(3) of the 1961 Convention does not extend to a new law authorising deprivation where this would make a person stateless.