Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

With their mother’s Australian citizenship cancelled over alleged ISIS-links, how will NZ deal with her children?

By unilaterally revoking the citizenship of the 26-year-old woman detained in Turkey this week, Australia has potentially left her two children in diplomatic limbo.

Known only as “S.A.” (but named by the ABC as Suhayra Aden from Melbourne), she was the subject of an Interpol blue notice, according to the Turkish Ministry of National Defence, which alleges she was a terrorist with Islamic State.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacdina Ardern responded sternly to Australia’s actions, saying it amounted to their dumping the problem on New Zealand’s doorstep.

The mother had dual New Zealand and Australian citizenship, but left New Zealand for Australia at the age of six, and travelled to Syria from Australia.

It would now appear Australia is also seeking to shut the door on the two children. To paraphrase the old saying, the sins of the mother are being visited upon the children.

The ‘privileges’ of citizenship

The stripping of citizenship as a counter-terrorism measure seeks to address the threat posed by individuals suspected of, or engaged in, terrorist activity.

It’s a tactic used by many countries to prevent citizens from returning when they’re perceived as a risk to national security.

Read more: New Zealand is violating the rights of its children. Is it time to change the legal definition of age discrimination? 

These types of legal balancing acts between an individual’s human rights and national security are not uncommon. As Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated more prosaically, his job is to protect Australians from terrorists “enjoying privileges” of citizenship.

But that view overlooks the situation of two other individuals. Aged five and under, they are presumably not suspected of terrorist activity. Legally, this raises questions about the justification for limiting their citizenship rights.

Where do the children stand?

In spite of the seeming intractability of the row between the two countries, the situation facing these children needs resolving.

Key to that will be the recognition that children enjoy the same human rights protections as adults under the general framework of international human rights law. They also have particular and specific protection under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989.

Both Australia and New Zealand have accepted these international legal obligations, meaning a number of the provisions of this convention must inform both countries’ decisions in this case.

The convention opens by stating that the family is “the fundamental group of society” and the child should grow up in a family environment.

Similarly, involuntary separation is to be avoided, unless it is in the child’s best interests.

The right to a nationality

Children have a right to a nationality. As far as possible, they also have the right to know and be cared for by their parents.

This right is particularly important in the current situation. Children born overseas to Australian citizens can claim Australian citizenship upon application. So too can the children of New Zealanders born overseas.

However, the children of Australian citizens who have had their citizenship revoked can themselves lose their citizenship rights.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted the potential impact on the citizenship of Australian children. It called for Australia to ensure no child is deprived of citizenship on any ground regardless of the status of his or her parents.

Human rights versus national security

The case also raises questions around the balancing of national security and human rights. For the children involved, a number of the convention’s guiding principles underpin these rights.

As part of the prohibition of discrimination, states are required to ensure the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status or activities of the child’s parents.

Read more: 'The Australian government is not listening': how our country is failing to protect its children 

The best interests of the child should govern all decisions relating to them, and the child has a right to be heard in all proceedings affecting them.

The child also has the right to life, survival and development. Given reports that a third sibling has died of pneumonia, this right and guiding principle takes on real significance.

In essence, then, the rights of the child must inform any decisions about the future of these children. As part of that process, the maintenance of relationships with the wider family unit — if not their mother — is still key and the child’s best interests must be taken into account.

These are rights, not privileges.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: The Major Questions Doctrine: The US Supreme Court Blunts The EPA
The US Supreme Court has been frantically busy of late, striking down law and legislation with an almost crazed, ideological enthusiasm. Gun laws have been invalidated; Roe v Wade and constitutional abortion rights, confined to history. And now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been clipped of its powers in a 6-3 decision.
The June 30 decision of West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency was something of a shadow boxing act... More>>


Ian Powell: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?

On 19 June the Sunday Star Times published my column on the relationship between the Labour government’s stewardship of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system and the outcome of the next general election expected to be around September-October 2023: Is the health system an electoral sword of Damocles for Labour... More>>


The First Attack On The Independents: Albanese Hobbles The Crossbench
It did not take long for the new Australian Labor government to flex its muscle foolishly in response to the large crossbench of independents and small party members of Parliament. Despite promising a new age of transparency and accountability after the election of May 21, one of the first notable acts of the Albanese government was to attack the very people who gave voice to that movement. Dangerously, old party rule, however slim, is again found boneheaded and wanting... More>>


Dunne Speaks: "Let's Get Wellington Moving" Yeah, Right
There was great excitement in Wellington recently when the government finally announced – after much procrastination and indecision – its intentions for the ever so over-optimistically titled “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” plan... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Roe V. Wade Blindsides National

Momentum is everything in politics, but it is very fragile. There are times when unexpected actions can produce big shifts and changes in the political landscape. In 2017, for example, the Labour Party appeared headed for another hefty defeat in that year’s election until the abrupt decision of its then leader to step aside just weeks before the election. That decision changed the political landscape and set in train the events which led to Labour being anointed by New Zealand First to form a coalition government just a few weeks later... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>