Dutch MPs vote to strip Islamic militants of dual nationality

An ISIS flag captured by pro-government forces in Iraq during an anti-ISIS operation on May 5, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch MPs voted on Tuesday to strip dual nationals of their Dutch citizenship if they join terror groups such as the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group to fight as militants, officials said.

The lower house of parliament approved the controversial Bill to revoke the Dutch citizenship of people with dual nationality, if they are deemed to have joined foreign terror groups like ISIS or Al-Qaeda - even if they have not been convicted of any crime.

The move comes in the wake of attacks in Paris last year and in Brussels in March, carried out by European extremists thought to have returned home after joining radical organisations in Syria or Iraq as foreign fighters.

"These jihadists can pose a threat to national security when they return to the Netherlands," the justice ministry said in a statement.

"Therefore, even without a conviction on a terror charge, the justice minister can decide to strip a person of their nationality, if that person is deemed to have joined a terror organisation," ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema told AFP.

However, the ruling would not apply to people who only have Dutch nationality, Alkema added. Under international conventions, countries are not allowed to intentionally make people stateless.

Justice Minister Ard Van der Steur first proposed the changes to the law late last year, saying they were necessary to stop jihadists returning to the Netherlands.

"The scrapping of Dutch nationality becomes possible as soon as somebody in a foreign country joins a group on a list of terror organisations" such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda, the justice ministry statement said.

"Once approved, the person will be declared an undesirable foreigner. It will prevent them from returning to the Netherlands or the Schengen zone," it added.

But the Bill has caused discord in parliament, with some leftist parties arguing it could lead to even greater radicalisation.

According to past estimates by the Dutch secret services, 200 people from the Netherlands including 50 women have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

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