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Netherlands: Possibilities for Revocation of Citizenship to Be Expanded

(Mar. 18, 2016) On March 1, 2016, the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer) approved a legislative proposal that expands the grounds for revocation of Dutch citizenship under the Nationality Act of the Netherlands. (More Possibilities for Revoking Dutch Citizenship, GOVERNMENT.NL (Mar. 1, 2016).) Upon the adoption of the new grounds, the Minister of Security and Justice will have broadened power to revoke the citizenship of anyone with a criminal conviction for facilitating the commission or preparation of a terrorist crime.  The measure makes a conviction under article 134a of the Criminal Code a ground for loss of citizenship under article 14(2)b of the Dutch Citizenship Act. (Netherlands Increases Possibility to Withdraw Dutch Citizenship After Facilitating Terrorist Crimes, EURO CITIZENSHIP (Mar. 1, 2016).)

Article 14(2)b already provides for the permanent revocation of the Dutch citizenship of anyone who has committed an offense under articles 83 (on terrorist crimes) and 205 (on recruitment for a foreign military or armed conflict) of the Dutch Criminal Code. (Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap [Dutch Nationality Act] (Dec. 19, 1984, as last amended effective Apr. 1, 2014), OVERHEID.NL; Wetboek van Strafrecht (Mar. 3, 1881, as last amended effective Jan. 1, 2016) [Criminal Law], art. 134a, OVERHEID.NL; Criminal Code (Mar. 3, 1881, valid as of Oct. 1, 2012).) Article 134 a of the Criminal Code prescribes:

Any person who intentionally obtains or attempts to obtain for himself or another person means or information for the commission of a terrorist offence or a serious offence for the preparation or facilitation of a terrorist offence, or gains knowledge or skills for that purpose or imparts this knowledge or these skills to another person, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding eight years or a fine of the fifth category. (Criminal Code, supra.)

The new law will apply prospectively; the withdrawal of Dutch citizenship for facilitating a terrorist offense will not apply to cases in which the conviction becomes final before the amended Act enters into force. (34 016 (R2036): Wijziging van de Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap ter verruiming van de mogelijkheden voor het ontnemen van het Nederlanderschap bij terroristische misdrijven [34 016 (R2036): Amendment of the Dutch Nationality Act to Expand the Possibilities for Withdrawing Dutch Citizenship due to Terrorist Crimes] (Mar. 10, 2015), art. II, Eerste Kamer website.)

The Minister’s decision to revoke Dutch citizenship “is an administrative measure which follows a final criminal conviction. Revocation will always be checked for proportionality, in accordance with European case law, and may not lead to statelessness.”  (More Possibilities for Revoking Dutch Citizenship, supra.)  It is possible, therefore, for the affected individual to object to the revocation decision and then lodge an appeal of the decision with a court.  (Id.)

The amendment will enter into force before April 1, 2016, according to the Ministry of Security and Justice. (Id.)  There is legislation still pending said to be “more far-reaching … providing for the possibility of withdrawing Dutch citizenship from a person who voluntarily joins a terrorist organisation and without the need for a prior criminal conviction.”  (Netherlands Increases Possibility to Withdraw Dutch Citizenship After Facilitating Terrorist Crimes, supra; 34 356 (R2064): Wijziging van de Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap in verband met het intrekken van het Nederlanderschap in het belang van de nationale veiligheid, Nr. 5 Verslag [34 356 (R2064): Amendment of the Dutch Nationality Act in Connection with the Withdrawal of Dutch Nationality in the Interest of National Security, Report No. 5] (Feb. 2, 2016), OVERHEID.NL.)