Discussing the human rights limits on loss of citizenship: A normative-legal perspective on egalitarian arguments regarding Dutch nationality laws targeting Dutch-Moroccans

T.L. Boekestein*, G.R. de Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In its efforts to counteract terrorist threats and contain the risks posed by returning foreign fighters, the Netherlands, like several other European states, has enacted legislation introducing denationalisation as a counter-terrorism measure. The Dutch measures target convicted terrorists and foreign fighters alike, the latter without the prior involvement of the judiciary. This practice not only challenges traditional conceptions of citizenship, but also raises several human rights concerns, of which discrimination is the most pressing. This Article therefore examines the measures taken by the Netherlands and analyses their compatibility with Articles 14 and P12-1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to assess the measures' disproportionate focus on Dutch-Moroccans from a legal perspective. Based on this conclusion of inequality, the Article then ventures beyond purely legal analysis to discuss the Dutch legislation more broadly, before linking the legal argument with normative critiques on the denationalisation of terrorists, and foreign fighters in particular. Taken together, the legal and normative findings establish that denationalisation as a counter-terrorism measure in the Netherlands cannot be reconciled with the legal or normative dimension of the equality principle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-337
Number of pages18
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019


  • Loss of citizenship
  • discrimination
  • equality principle
  • foreign fighters
  • human rights

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