Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security
1. The Australian Human Rights Commission makes this submission to the
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) with respect to its
Inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Strengthening the Citizenship
Loss Provisions) Bill 2018 (Cth) (the Bill).
2. The Bill would amend s 35A of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth) (the Act), to
broaden the circumstances in which a dual citizen or national could have their
Australian citizenship removed.
3. The stated purpose of the Bill is to keep Australians safe from terrorist threats and to
uphold the integrity of Australian citizenship.1
4. The Commission acknowledges the critical importance of protecting Australia’s
national security, and the Australian community from terrorism. Enacting measures
that achieve these goals can protect human rights, including the right to life,2 and
help fulfil Australia’s international law obligations.3
5. However, to comply with international human rights law, any resulting limitations on
human rights must be reasonable, necessary and proportionate. The Commission
considers that the Bill does not satisfy these requirements.
6. Involuntary removal of Australian citizenship is an extremely serious matter, and
imposes significant limitations on human rights for the individual whose Australian
citizenship is removed. It can also have significant consequences for others in the
Australian community who may rely on that individual, such as any dependants of
7. By enabling an individual’s Australian citizenship to be removed following much less
serious conduct than is currently provided for, the Bill risks arbitrarily interfering with
the right to enter and remain in one’s own country, protected under article 12(4) of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).4
8. If passed, the Bill would also increase the risk that a person, including a child, will be
rendered stateless. Such an outcome could breach Australia’s obligations under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),5 Convention on the Reduction of
Statelessness (Statelessness Convention)6 or Convention on the Rights of the Child
9. The proposed retrospective application of the reforms also risks offending the
prohibition against retrospective penalties in article 15(1) of the ICCPR.
The Commission recommends that the Bill not be passed.