Algerian government withdraws controversial 'deprivation of nationality' bill

Algerian government withdraws controversial 'deprivation of nationality' bill
The proposed amendment that would see Algerian nationality withdrawn for dual nationals in case of 'prejudice' against the state has been withdrawn.
2 min read
05 April, 2021
It is seen as an attempt to counter the pro-democracy movement called 'Hirak' [Getty]
A bill that forfeits Algerian nationality for those living in the diaspora has been "withdrawn", Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced on Sunday.

The amendment to the nationality code, which sought to deprive Algerian nationals who may have committed acts "causing serious prejudice to the interests of the state" abroad, or were collaborating with a country considered as "enemy", was introduced in March by Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati.

"We have withdrawn the project because of its misinterpretation," President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said during a television interview.

"Dual nationality or multiple nationality is not a crime and we respect that, because [it is] supposed to bring a plus to the person in question's country of origin in a nationalistic climate."

"These proceedings only concerned the issue of endangering state security which we will defend one way or another," he added.

The text had not only upset the Algerian disapora but also those in the country, where it was seen as an attempt to counter the pro-democracy movement called 'Hirak', which has been active since February 2019 and is largely supported by Algerians abroad.

"The forfeiture of nationality, by politically and socially killing the citizen, appears as a brutal weapon that is introduced into the social body," Madjid Benchikh, former dean of Algiers' law faculty, told El Watan.

"Even if it only affects a few individuals, its effects work in depth to sow the idea of lasting division within society and the nation," he added.

In 2005, parliament unanimously passed an ordinance recognising dual nationality.

Although banned before then, dual nationality was tolerated by the Algerian authorities, especially when it came to French-Algerians. Tebboune mentioned in July 2020 the figure of "more than six million of Algerians" living in France.

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