UK Home Office 'unlawfully' stripped British woman in Syria camp of citizenship, court finds

UK Home Office 'unlawfully' stripped British woman in Syria camp of citizenship, court finds
2 min read
27 January, 2022
A British woman held in the Roj camp in Syria had her citizenship unlawfully revoked without being notified, a UK court has found.
The woman has been held in Syria since 2019 [file photo-Getty]

A UK court of appeal has ruled that the UK government acted unlawfully when it stripped a woman of her citizenship without notifying her beforehand.

The woman, who is only legally identified as D4, has been detained in the Roj camp in Kurdish-controlled north-eastern Syria since January 2019 and had recently had her British citizenship removed.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel argued that a notification was sent to D4 by placing a note on her Home Office file. This move was introduced without parliamentary approval.

The court of appeal proclaimed that the British Nationality Act 1981 requires written notice to be given about a decision to revoke their citizenship and only parliament could decide to alter that requirement, The Guardian found. 

Under the current system, one must be notified and have a right to challenge the decision through an appeals process.

D4 was born in the UK in 1967 and has been a British citizen since birth, as well as holding Pakistani nationality.

The decision to strip her of her British citizenship was made on 27 December 2019. D4 came to know that she was no longer a UK national when her lawyers approached Home Office officials for assistance to repatriate her from Syria in 2020.

On Wednesday, during the two-to-one court hearing majority, Lady Justice Whipple said: "The person needs to know that a decision has been made, the person is entitled to know the reasons for that decision, and the person is put on notice of their appeal rights."

The court of appeal ruling came as the government attempts, through Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders bill, to remove the requirement to give someone notice when their citizenship is revoked.

The bill is currently being reviewed by parliament and has been the subject of heavy criticism and protests.

The Home Office said it intended to seek permission to appeal from the supreme court.