Australia plans to pass a tough new law within weeks that gives the government the authority to strip citizenship from dual nationals suspected of terrorism even if they are not convicted of a crime, the hardline conservative Prime Minister announced Tuesday.
The move comes after a conservative election win and revelations that more than 100 Australians are suspected of fighting with ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. Over half of those fighting were estimated to be dual citizens, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.
The amendments to Australia's Citizenship Act would allow ISIS supporters both overseas and at home to be treated the same as Australians who join foreign armies at war against Australia.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would have the discretion to revoke Australian citizenship from dual nationals suspected of terrorism despite not being convicted of any offense. The decision would still be subject to judicial appeal.
“There should be no difference in how we treat Australians who join a hostile army and those engaged in terrorism — both are betraying our country and don’t deserve to be citizens of Australia,” Abbott said.
The amendment brings Australian citizenship laws in line with those of the United States, Canada, France and Britain. No one will be left stateless by losing their Australian citizenship according to the provision.
In addition to the new measure the government also plans to spend 40 million Australian dollars on new intervention programs and community initiatives to stop young Australians from leaving the country to join terror groups.