Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA, will speak at an event in London, England, on the Canada’s citizenship revocation legislation and the fight to challenge it. His talk will form part of a day-long seminar on arbitrary nationality revocation and its ramifications, organized by Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, Gulf Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, along with Salam for Democracy and Human Rights. Experts will discuss the situations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Myanmar, Syria and perhaps other countries.

The country case studies are intended to inform participants as to the longstanding nature and scope of the problem of arbitrary nationality revocation and its impact. Participants will explore the practice, impact and human rights dimension of arbitrary nationality revocation and discuss what can be done to halt the practice and to seek redress for victims, all within the framework of international human rights law. International human rights law addressing the arbitrary deprivation of nationality will be set out.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states: “Everyone has the right to a nationality” and “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” International law provides that the right of states to decide who their nationals are is not absolute and, in particular, that states must comply with their human rights obligations concerning the granting and loss of nationality.

Participants will explore the compatibility of GCC as well as others states’ domestic laws with international law and standards in respect to the withdrawal of a person’s citizenship. They will examine situations where persons affected may be left stateless and the consequences of such measures, whether and in what way they also constitute human rights violations, and what the strategies have been to combat the practice.

For instance, discussions will revolve around whether such acts are arbitrary actions, whether there is due process and if so, to what degree; whether revocation of citizenship is a technocratic and politically-neutral measure or whether it is it used as a political tool to exclude certain individuals or groups of individuals. Has it restricted the exercise of rights to freedom of expression, association or assembly; or impacted human rights defenders? Has it been used to manage political discourse? Or has it been rooted in an objectively verifiable risk to national security and, accordingly, a measure aimed at protecting society?

Seminar participants and objectives

The seminar brings together activists, individuals and members of communities whose citizenship – or that of their antecedents – was taken away, human rights defenders, lawyers, researchers, and representatives of national and international NGOs and at least one international human rights body.

Monday, 31 October 2016 – 10:00 to 17:30

Amnesty International UK – Human Rights Action Centre

17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA