EXPLAINED: Why a Swiss woman is being stripped of her citizenship

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EXPLAINED: Why a Swiss woman is being stripped of her citizenship

A woman from Switzerland is losing her Swiss nationality —an extremely rare event in the country. Why has this happened and what are the consequences of this drastic measure?


In 2016, the unnamed woman, who was born and raised in Geneva, took her two young daughters to live in the Islamic State (ISIS) enclave in Syria without the knowledge of their respective fathers.

Why is depriving this woman of her passport important to Swiss authorities?

If she is irrevocably stripped of her citizenship (the woman can appeal the decision within 30 days), she will not be allowed to return to Switzerland. For authorities this means she would not pose a security threat within the country.

However, the government said that its efforts to bring the two children back to Geneva would continue.

Can the government strip any Swiss citizen of their nationality?

Stripping someone of their citizenship is only possible if the person has a second nationality. Otherwise Switzerland would create stateless people, an act prohibited by international law. The woman in question also has a French passport.

Under what circumstances can a citizenship be revoked?

Swiss citizenship rights could be lost due to “actions regarded as seriously detrimental to the interests or the reputation of Switzerland”, according to the State Secretariat for Migration. 

An example would be an act of treason or terrorism.

Have there been many cases of the government stripping a Swiss person of citizenship?

The last ‘mass’ expatriations took place in this country between 1940 and 1947, when 80 Swiss nationals were deprived of their citizenships because they collaborated with the Nazis.

In 1952, the possibility of expatriation was incorporated into the new civil rights law.

However, it had not been applied until 2019, when a Turkish-Swiss dual national lost his Swiss citizenship after being convicted by the Federal Criminal Court for being an ISIS member. So, the Geneva woman is only the second person to have her passport revoked in over 70 years.

Do other nations also have similar laws?

According to the Migration Policy Institute, more than 130 countries around the world have such legislation on the books, including 19 EU members. 

However revocations of citizenship are still relatively rare.





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