Human rights groups worry about new laws allowing the revocation of citizenship for certain crimes, including terrorism or treason

Sep 25, 2015 | 6 comments

A new Canadian law that allows the government to revoke citizenship from those who commit crimes, is drawing complaints from civil liberties and human rights groups.

Similar laws are en force in several eastern European and Asian countries and are being considered in the U.S. and Great Britain.

chl canada passportHuman Rights Watch (HRW) says the laws could be used against ethnic minorities who hold dual citizenship or even people who speak out against the government. “Terrorism can mean whatever a government wants it to mean, especially in Canada and the U.S.,” says a HRW spokeswoman. “We have seen many cases of abuse under the general term.”

She also said the law could be used against citizens living abroad.

In the U.S., several lawmakers have suggested citizenship of dual passport holders should be revoked even for minor offenses. Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz is on record of saying that U.S. citizens living out of the country should not have the same rights as those living in the country. “Obviously, these people are not serious about supporting the United States so why should they receive the same benefits and rights.”

Cruz and New York Senator Charles Schumer say they may introduce legislation similar to the Canadian law during the next U.S. congressional session.

HRW and civil liberties groups in Canada say the law creates two levels of citizenship, one for those born in Canada and anther for those born out of the country. They also say the law could be used arbitrarily against any citizen.

Some rights groups have presented arguments against the law to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s, claiming that it violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Canada is a signatory.

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