Government wants to revoke Dutch citizenship without courts, supervision
The government wants to make a temporary measure that allows the Minister of Justice to revoke the Dutch citizenship of people who joined terrorist groups abroad without court approval, a permanent power. A legislative proposal to this effect also shows that the government wants to scrap the extra supervision on this power, Nieuwsuur reports.
This temporary power was implemented in 2017, when terrorist group ISIS was dominating Syria, with the intention to keep potential terrorists out of the Netherlands. At the time, the PvdA forced the Cabinet to let the committee for supervising the intelligence services CTIVD supervise the Justice Minister in the use of this power.
The CTIVD raised concerns about the government's new plans in a letter to parliament. According to the independent body, the plan will lead to a "supervision gap." The Justice Minister can revoke Dutch citizenship based on state secret information. The CTIVD is the only body that can see in "real-time" how the Cabinet handles these confidential documents, and therefore determine whether the Minister justifiably uses his powers.
State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol wrote to parliament that she believes the supervision of this power lies with parliament. She also pointed out that in the five years this power existed, the CTIVD has not issued a single report of its effectiveness. Under the new law, the CTIVD will still be able to check how the Cabinet uses state secrets.
The CTIVD agreed that it never published a report but said that this is because another investigation is already underway into the use of this power. And while the CTIVD will continue to monitor the use of state secrets, it won't be able to use that knowledge to keep the Minister in check, the service said. As parliament cannot always directly monitor state secret matters, there is a gap in supervision.
The Cabinet's plans also sparked criticism in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. "More power with less supervision, we already found that undesirable," D66 parliamentarian Hanneke van der Werf said to Nieuwsuur. "And now it appears that the regulator itself is being sidelined. A worrying state of affairs." The PvdA, which previously pushed for the CTIVD to get the supervisory function on the citizenship revoking power, called the new plan "a bad thing."
The Council of State also criticized the bill, but mainly for another reason. The Council was critical of this power from the start, and in the past five years, the need for the law has only diminished. "There are currently insufficient compelling arguments for the introduction of a permanent power," the Council of State said, adding that revoking terror suspects' citizenship is just moving the problem somewhere else. "The measure that deliberately keeps people outside the borders of the Kingdom because of the potential threat they pose moves the problem to other, in this case, often fragile states."