Australia to strip IS suspects of citizenship

Australia plans to pass a law within weeks to give the government power to strip citizenship from dual nationals who are suspected terrorists, even if they are not convicted of a crime, the prime minister said.

Australia plans to pass a law within weeks to give the government power to strip citizenship from dual nationals who are suspected terrorists, even if they are not convicted of a crime, the prime minister said.

More than 100 Australians are suspected to be fighting with the Islamic State movement and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Up to 50% of those fighters were estimated to be dual citizens, Tony Abbott said.

The amendments to the citizenship act would allow IS supporters at home and abroad be treated the same as Australians who join foreign armies at war against Australia, Abbott said.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, would have the discretion to revoke Australian citizenship from dual nationals suspected of terrorism, even if they had not been convicted of any offence, Abbott said.

The decision would be subject to judicial appeal.

“There should be no difference in how we treat Australians who join a hostile army and those engaged in terrorism — both are betraying our country and don’t deserve to be citizens of Australia,” Abbott said in a statement.

The amendment would bring Australian citizenship laws closer to those the US, Canada, France, and Britain, he said. Nobody was to be left stateless by losing their Australian citizenship.

Australia has the third-largest proportion of overseas-born residents, following only Israel and Luxembourg, the government said.

Islamic State militants have had success in recruiting in Australia, which has 24 million people, although the majority are Christian while 2% are Muslim.

The London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence estimates that between 100 and 250 Australians have joined Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. The centre estimates only 100 US fighters have arrived from an American population more than 13 times larger.

Counter-terrorism units were posted at Australian airports after a terror alert in September. The government said last week 288 passengers were prevented from leaving Australia on security grounds since then.

“The government is working with community organisations and other governments around Australia to develop education materials and deliver training to identify and steer individuals away from ideologies of hate,” Attorney General George Brandis was quoted in Melbourne’s Sunday Herald Sun as saying.

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