Amnesty International welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security’s Inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015.
The legislation raises significant questions relating to human rights, statelessness, citizenship, and the limits of executive power. Australia is party to numerous international legal conventions which are applicable to the Bill. This submission considers a number of Australia’s international legal obligations.
Amnesty International concurs with the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy that respect and protection of human rights and the rule of law are a ‘fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.’ Under international human rights law, any interference with human rights for the protection of national security must meet the tests of being demonstrably necessary for that purpose and proportionate to the harm it is aimed to prevent. The burden is on the state to demonstrate the necessity and proportionality of the restriction. Restrictions must be consistent with all other human rights recognised in international law; may not impair the essence of the right affected; and may not be applied in a discriminatory or arbitrary manner.
What does Amnesty International recommend?
Amnesty International recommends that Parliament rejects the legislation.
If the Bill is to be passed, Amnesty International recommends that at a minimum, the Australian Parliament:
- amend the bill to only allow the loss of Australian citizenship after a criminal conviction in a court of law
- ensure the legislation adheres to Australia’s international legal obligations, preserving the principle that stripping citizenship is both an extraordinary measure and a last resort
- reject the retrospective operation of the legislation
- eject any effort to expand the legislation to cover sole nationals.