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Australia Introduces Tough New Anti-Terror Laws

  • VOA News

FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks about the nation's new anti-extremism strategy during a question time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Feb. 23, 2015.

FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks about the nation's new anti-extremism strategy during a question time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Feb. 23, 2015.

Australia will have the power to strip dual nationals of their citizenship if they take part in terrorist activities, according to a new law introduced in parliament.

"Australian citizenship should not be taken lightly," warned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as he introduced the so-called "Allegiance to Australia" bill on Wednesday.

The bill stipulates that dual nationals who fight with a terrorist group, are engaged in terrorist activity, or are convicted of a terrorist act in an Australian court can lose their citizenship.

It is the government's latest attempt to deal with the dozens of Australians thought to have fled to Iraq and Syria to fight with extremist groups, including the Islamic State.

"Automatic loss of citizenship will be triggered whether the conduct takes place inside or outside Australia," said Dutton. "Loss of citizenship will be immediate, upon the person engaging in the relevant conduct."

Under a controversial part of the bill, children of outcast dual nationals can also lose their citizenship, unless they are able to claim nationality based on a "responsible" parent.

The government insists that those targeted will have the right to appeal their loss of citizenship to the courts, although this is not explicitly mentioned in the legislation.

Australia has passed a series of tough new laws meant to combat the threat of Islamic extremism, both from homegrown radicals or those returning home from overseas.

The government estimates that 120 Australians have gone to fight with jihadist groups in the Middle East. About half are dual nationals, meaning they could be stripped of their citizenship.

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