Dutch deputies voted on Tuesday to strip dual nationals of their Dutch citizenship if they join terrorist groups, officials said.
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 organizations in Syria or Iraq as foreign fighters.
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 DAESH or al-Qaida – even if they have not been convicted of any crime.
The Dutch decision is the latest move as countries around the globe grapple with the problem of how to deal with Islamists leaving to join groups like DAESH, which boasts between 27,000 and 31,000 foreign fighters from 86 countries, according to a report released in December by the New York-based Soufan security think tank.
It also comes as French President François Hollande has backpedaled on constitutional reforms that included plans to strip convicted terrorists of their French nationality, sparking a fierce debate over the risk that it would create stateless persons.
"These extremists can pose a threat to national security when they return to the Netherlands," the Dutch 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 organization," ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The bill now has to go to the upper house in the coming weeks for a final thumbs-up before becoming law. The ruling would not apply, however, to those 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 extremists returning to the Netherlands.
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