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Citizenship News

EUDO CITIZENSHIP offers a selection of media reports and news summaries on significant legislative changes, court decisions, policy developments, political campaigns or other events concerning citizenship in Europe and beyond.

We welcome suggestions for news items by our users. Proposals including the full text or internet link should be sent to EUDO.Citizenship@eui.eu. The EUDO CITIZENSHIP team will selectively publish news based on their significance and information content. We will not publish items whose content appears to be biased or otherwise problematic.

We will publish news in any European language if an English summary of the content is available.

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Cambodian Ministry of Interior identifies 70,000 ‘improper’ citizens, mostly ethnic Vietnamese

The Ministry of Interior of Cambodia is planning to revoke citizenship of 70,000 individuals, most of whom are ethnic Vietnamese born in Cambodia. To move ahead with the plan, the Minister of Interior held a meeting to discuss the withdrawal of citizenship from foreigners ‘who hold inaccurate documents because they were issued improperly’. Officials who issued such documents are at risk of facing charges. The Minister stated that the problem is at the national level, and is not targeting any particular individual. Many individuals targeted by this plan are at risk of statelessness as they only possess Cambodian citizenship.

Read more here.

For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Vietnam and Cambodia, check out our country profile pages

Dutch Senate vetoes proposal to extend residency requirement naturalisation from 5 to 7 years

By Maarten Vink, GLOBALCIT co-director

The Dutch Senate recently voted on a proposal to increase the residence requirement for naturalisation from the current five to seven years. This proposal was part of the coalition agreement of the outgoing government of the Liberal Conservatives (VVD) and the Labour Party (PvdA).

The proposal had been criticized from the start by the Council of State, parliamentarians and societal groups for lacking a clear motivation. Academic studies referred to in the parliamentary debate also show that a longer period before naturalisation decreases the probability that acquiring citizenship will positively affect the labour market prospects of immigrants. Moreover, the proposal was criticized for violating the spirit of Article 34 of the 1951 Geneva Convention which requires that ‘Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees. They shall in particular make every effort to expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges and costs of such proceedings.’ The proposal did not exempt refugees from the extension of the residence requirement and hence would imply a substantial restriction in terms of access to citizenship for this particularly vulnerable group.

Ultimately the decision by the Senate was determined by a constellation of three political factors. First, already in the Lower House (Tweede Kamer) of the Dutch Parliament the PvdA indicated they only voted in favour of the bill as they were bound by the coalition agreement. In the Dutch context, the coalition agreement especially binds the government parties in the Lower House, but less so in the politically more independent Upper House. Second, after the Dutch elections of March 2017, the VVD-PvdA coalition was already in ‘caretaker’ mode and a new government is expected soon, with the VVD but without the PvdA. After the senators of the PvdA withdrew their support for the bill during the debate on 26 September, when the Senate voted on the bill on Tuesday 3 October 2017, the faith of the bill was in the hands of the small Senior Citizens party (50PLUS). Here the third political factor came in, which was a last-minute effort by the Dutch diaspora, which lobbied against the inclusion of a new residence requirement of 3 years for spouse or registered partners of Dutch citizens (under current law, only 3 years marriage or partnership is required, irrespective of residence in the Netherlands). The 50PLUS senators were, apparently, sensitive to these concerns and when they voted against there was no longer a parliamentary majority to support the proposal and the bill was rejected.

More information (in Dutch) about the bill can be found on the website of the Dutch Senate.

Two blog posts (here and here, both in Dutch) provide further context, refer to academic research that featured in the parliamentary debate and provide further references for research on the relation between (the speed of) naturalisation and immigrant integration.


UN report regards imposition of Russian citizenship in Crimea as a source of human rights violations

The recent report by the UN Human Rights Office regards the imposition of Russian citizenship in Crimea as a source of violations of human rights. “The citizenship issue has had a major impact on the lives of many residents of Crimea,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Read more here and access the full report here

For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Russia and the Ukraine check out our country profile pages.

Newly elected member of the Swiss government renounces Italian citizenship even though the law does not demand it

The Swiss parliament has elected Ignazio Cassis, a member of the Italian-speaking minority, to the seven-member Swiss cabinet on Wednesday. He will replace Didier Burkhalter on the multi-party government.

Before the election, Cassis had been in the cross-hairs of the Swiss People's Party, who questioned his loyalty to Switzerland because he held dual nationality. Born to Italian parents in Switzerland in 1961, Cassis held both an Italian and a Swiss passport. 

During the campaign, Cassis announced he would give up his dual nationality if elected to the cabinet although he's under no legal obligation to do so. He insisted that it was a personal and “spontaneous” decision not influenced by any political pressure. Nevertheless, the decision was widely criticised.

The debate has also annoyed the more than 775,000 Swiss living abroad, the vast majority of whom (73.5%) have dual nationality. “We regret this decision, for it implies that dual nationals are not fully Swiss," said Ariane Rustichelli, director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad. 

Swiss political scientist Nenad Stojanovic has emphasized that the election of Cassis is still “historical”, as he is the first naturalized citizen to be elected to the federal council. Stojanovic insisted that, when seen from this angle, the election is a strong positive signal to foreigners and naturalized citizens in Switzerland.

Read more here, here and here

Interview with Stojanovic here (in German). 

Sierra Leone enacts citizenship amendments

The Parliament of Sierra Leone on amended the bill entitled “The Citizenship Amendment Act 2017” on 5 July 2017.The bill amends the Citizenship Act of 1973 to take into consideration the amendment made to the Citizenship Act in 2006 providing for citizenship by birth to be granted through the mother.

Read more here.