London – A two year old child, ‘ZA’, stranded in Bangladesh has lost her legal challenge to be recognised as a British citizen. The girl’s father ‘E3’ was deprived of his citizenship in 2017 while he was in Bangladesh. Following several years of litigation, the Home Office conceded last year that E3 had been left stateless by the decision and withdrew the deprivation order against him. As ZA was born during the period that her father had been deprived of his British citizenship, he was unable to pass citizenship on to her at birth.

ZA along with her father E3 and another man unlawfully deprived of his citizenship, N3, argued that as the decisions had left them stateless – something prohibited under international law – they should have been treated as never having had any effect. The High Court disagreed, concluding that citizenship was only reinstated once the deprivation order was withdrawn, even if they had been left stateless. All three individuals intend to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal.

The ruling has grave implications for other children detained in the Kurdish prison camps in northern Syria who were born at a time when their parents were unlawfully deprived of their citizenship.

The decision once again highlights how the judiciary is incapable of effectively holding the executive to account in its use of such arbitrary powers.

Commenting on the judgement, ZA’s father E3 stated:

“To say that I am disappointed with today’s judgement would be an understatement. Being back in the UK but without my daughter is bittersweet. This was the first Eid I have been away from her and am now going to also miss her turning three next month. I cannot understand a system that can be so cruel and unforgiving towards a young child who is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.”

Human Rights Lawyer Fahad Ansari who represents all three Claimants said:

“Despite the judge accepting that my clients had been rendered stateless and recognising that ZA is ‘entirely blameless’, he was unable to provide them with an effective remedy against the draconian powers of the Secretary of State. The judgement in effect allows the government to benefit from its unlawful actions at the expense of the lives and futures of innocent children. It is somewhat ironic that E3 is now back in the UK living his life as a British citizen but his two year old daughter remains abroad unable to join him.”

CAGE Managing Director, Muhammad Rabbani, said:

“We have supported both N3 and E3 during their traumatic experiences of being unlawfully exiled and rendered stateless. This decision outlines what we already know, the citizenship deprivation regime is wholly unaccountable and the secretary of state is empowered to act with impunity with little to no consequence. This is further compounded by the overtly racist and Islamophobic nature of the power.”

“With the passing of the Nationality and Borders Bill, we are faced with the spectre of an expanse of these discriminatory powers, rendering Britons of ‘foreign’ heritage, even young children, as forever second-class citizens.”


Image courtesy of Flickr/Anthony Majanlahti

(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.)