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Hundreds of children refused British citizenship on character grounds

Hundreds of children refused British citizenship on character grounds

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 415 children aged 10-18 have been refused British citizenship on character grounds. The power to refuse citizenship on character grounds was controversially extended from adults to children as young as 10 in 2010. The refusals include 25 of children aged 10-13, 95 of children aged 14-15 and 300 of children aged 16-17. It is the refusals of children aged 10-13 that are most obviously absurd but all the refusals are highly questionable on moral grounds.

What could the 25 children aged 10-13 have done to be refused on character grounds? Or, to look at it another way, what child can truly be said to to be of “good character” (the statutory requirement) at that age anyway?

Citizenship is turning into a key battleground for protecting individual rights. Citizens enjoy reasonable protection against arbitrary interference with their rights by the State. Non citizens do not. The State is responding by refusing citizenship to wider class of people and by taking it away from those it considers “fifth columnists”. Take a look at my write up from the launch of a new practitioner book on the issue and the recent post on the quiet tightening up of good character requirements with the effect of excluding refugees.

Colin Yeo
Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder and editor of the Free Movement immigration law website.

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