London – British aid worker Tauqir Sharif has spoken out about the manner in which the government is rendering British aid workers and activists stateless through the use of citizenship deprivation powers.

These laws give unfettered powers to the Home Secretary to deprive individuals of their citizenship, if their presence in the country is deemed “not conducive to the public good”.

Any appeals are conducted through the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), where the normal rules of natural justice are abrogated by the extensive use of secret evidence.

Humanitarian Aid Worker Tauqir Sharif told CAGE said:

“Since 2012, I’ve been in Syria along with my wife and children, delivering life saving aid to internally displaced people and refugees. I am motivated by my desire to help others.”

“Two years ago, I was shocked to learn that my government had decided to revoke my citizenship, simply because I’m a Muslim child of migrant parents and no doubt due to my history of aid work, which has taken me from Palestine to Pakistan and Syria.”

“I’m being treated as a second class citizen by my own government. This is just pure racism and Islamophobia, and a violation of the values of justice I thought the UK respected.”

Daniel Furner of Birnberg Peirce and Partners who is representing Tauqir Sharif said:

“What troubles me most about these cases is the almost total absence of reasons, or explanation, for stripping a person of their citizenship. It’s hard to think of a more serious step to take, and yet in this case we have about two lines of text, explaining why they have taken Mr Sharif’s citizenship away. If they would tell us why they think that, we would have some chance to rebut it – but as it is, we are left with nothing. How are we supposed to defend him in those circumstances?”

CAGE Spokesperson Cerie Bullivant said:

“We must push back against this racist and abusive citizen deprivation process. Cases like Tauqir’s reveal how the government and right-wing lobbyists are exploiting ‘War on Terror’ rhetoric to influence the judiciary in ways that violate due process norms and punish humanitarian workers.”

“We have been documenting cases like this for years, but these stories seldom find traction in the media. This is because human rights organisations have failed to recognise how War on Terror violations such as these set dangerous precedents that will eventually affect everybody, not just Muslims.”

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)