Chapter 7 The rise of modern banishment: deprivation and nullification of British citizenship
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Depriving a citizen of his or her citizenship status is arguably the most severe sanction available in modern times. It is civil death, the descendent of proscription, exile, banishment and simple casting out. Deprivation in British law also creates a two-tier citizenship regime with some citizens – dual nationals and naturalised citizens – less well protected than others. As such, the exercise of the power of deprivation of citizenship should be reserved for the most serious crimes against the state. Through successive amendments, however, the power to deprive British citizens of their status has been considerably broadened. Even those born British can be subject to deprivation, the test is now expressed in equivalent language to the test for deportation of foreign nationals and there is considerably reduced protection against statelessness. Unsurprisingly, the number of deprivation cases has increased and is likely to increase further. The most recent reported cases involve serious crimes rather than any risk to national security. This is likely to be the start of a trend towards stripping dual citizens or naturalised citizens of their status for increasingly less serious offences.