Of the suspected 100 Australians thought to be fighting for Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria around half are estimated to hold dual nationality. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced plans to strip them of their Australian nationality even if they are yet to be convicted of any crime, bringing Australian citizenship laws closer to those of the United States, Canada, France and Britain.
Associated Press reports Abbot saying that by amending the Citizenship Act, Australian supporters of IS – overseas and domestic – may be treated the same as those citizens who enlist in armies at war with Australia. The discretion to revoke Australian citizenship from dual nationals suspected of terrorism would be given to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. It would remain subject to judicial appeal. Owing to the fact only dual nationals could have their Australian citizenship revoked, the decision would leave nobody stateless.
The Prime Minister explained:
“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.”
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today announced plans to spend 40 million Australian dollars on new intervention programs and community initiatives aimed at preventing young Australians from leaving to join terror groups.
She spoke of a 26-year-old Australian whom newspapers reported had abandoned her two children, aged five and seven, in Sydney to go to Syria and join IS, saying it is not an isolated case. In fact estimates suggest between 30 to 40 Australian women are engaged with or supporting terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Bishop said:
“I’m deeply pessimistic about the fate of this apparently troubled young woman, but I’m thankful she left her children in the safety of Australia and didn’t put them in mortal danger as others have done. It’s simply incomprehensible that while streams of innocent young women and girls are desperately trying to get away from [IS], young Australian women and girls are seeking to join them.”