Denmark‘s parliament has passed a law that allows the government to strip dual-national citizens, who fought with foreign armed groups, of their citizenship to stop them from returning to the country.
The measure, which was approved on Thursday, is primarily designed to target Danes who fought for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq.
It enables the immigration and integration minister to revoke the citizenships of dual nationals, while they are abroad, even without a court ruling, which was previously a requirement.
It was rushed to Parliament last week amid reports that hundreds of family members linked to ISIL escaped from a camp in the region.
While the ruling Social Democrats, the centre-right Liberal Party and the populist Danish People’s Party backed the bill in Parliament, the Social Liberals, the leftist-green Unity List and the Alternative voted against it. The Socialist People’s Party abstained.
Among other things, the critics of the law questioned the fact that those affected would be notified electronically – potentially while they were in a conflict zone.
Before the legislation was passed, it was amended to allow for exemptions to the four-week period during which those affected could appeal the decision.
“It will ultimately be up to a judge to decide whether you can justify that you didn’t respond before the deadline,” Immigration and Integration Minister Mattias Tesfaye told broadcaster DR on Wednesday.
The law was also amended to include a so-called “sunset clause”, meaning it would expire in July 2021 unless Parliament decided otherwise.
“These people have turned their backs on Denmark and used violence to combat our democracy and freedom. They are not wanted in Denmark,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said last week.
Last month, Denmark’s justice minister said there were 36 people who had travelled from Denmark to fight in the Middle East.
Among them, 10 had their residency permits withdrawn and 12 have been jailed.
In March, under the previous government, Denmark adopted a law depriving children born abroad to Danish fighters the right to citizenship.