Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Loss of Nationality

The Right is now claiming, contrary to what I asserted yesterday, stripping a person of his or her nationality is constitutional in France and, what's more, that the Left initiated it. This is untrue, as Patrick Weil explains here, but the situation is more complicated than I thought, and the law does permit a person convicted of treason or terrorism to be stripped of French nationality, provided that the loss does not render him stateless. The latter provision was added by Elisabeth Guigou in order to conform with European law on the matter.

Be that as it may, the technicalities are irrelevant. Sarkozy proposes to strip nationalized French citizens of their nationality if they murder a policeman. What is the purpose of such a measure? Is this supposed to add anything to existing laws against murder, attacks on public officials, etc.? Does anyone seriously believe that loss of citizenship is a greater deterrent to murder than the penalties that can already be inflicted? The purpose of this law is not to prevent a heinous crime but to stigmatize a whole category of people as more likely to commit that crime.

Indeed, on the inefficacy of everything Sarkozy has proposed of late, see Bernard Girard.

An extensive comment on stripping of nationality from the think tank Terra Nova can be found here.


Anonymous said...

You said:

"The purpose of this law is not to prevent a heinous crime but to stigmatize a whole category of people as more likely to commit that crime."

Hmmm, I think you've made a mistake there. Your sentence suggests that a certain (unnamed) category of people is likely to commit this crime, and that Sarkozy wants to stigmatize them. I don't think that's what you meant.

What you need to realize is that there have been several incidents recently where police have been shot at, and one who was hit by a car when he tried to get the driver to stop; not something that's common in France. I think this whole thing is that Sarkozy wants to show the police that he supports them more than just by saying "we'll track them down and bring them to justice."

Naturally, this is not a deterrent, but it's probably to gain points with the policemen's unions who are understandably perturbed by what has been happening.

It's worth noting that the first article you link to publishes the precise text of the ammendment:

"un acte qualifié de crime ou délit constituant une atteinte aux intérêts fondamentaux de la Nation ou pour un crime ou un délit constituant un acte de terrorisme"

One could easily argue that the murder of a police officer (or prefect or other official) _is_ an attack on the fundamental interests of the Nation.

I can understand that you didn't know about this bit in the constitution, but that the many loud commentors on the left weren't aware of it is particularly telling of the state of political discourse. Shoot first and check the facts later.

Unknown said...

"Several incidents in which policemen were shot at": And why do such incidents turn one's thoughts to naturalized citizens? Some of these incidents involved native-born Frenchmen. If "la nationalité française se mérite," are we to conclude that the native-born who shoot at policemen are more deserving of the honor than the non-native-born? The law is absurd, and Sarkozy hardly needs to "gain points with the policemen's union." He has amply demonstrated his support for the police.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Sarkozy needs to follow his logic: if shooting at/killing a police officer means one is unfit to be French, then it doesn't matter when/how one became French: one loses citizenship. In addition, Hortefeux wants to add a few more crimes or misdemeanors of cultural import (genital mutilation, forcing a burqa upon a woman).

Stripping someone of his/her citizenship is only possible, right now, if the State was fundamentally threatened - i.e., if the 9/11 "pilots" had been American, they could have lost their citizenship. "Simply" blowing up a place or leaking info ala wikileaks does not constitute enough of a crime - the leaks would have to have been purposely given to the enemy. So, in essence, Sarkozy is saying that assaulting a police officer is worse than killing a LOT of French people with a bomb.


Unknown said...

Sarkozy tried to strip would-be 9/11 bomber Moussaoui of his French citizenship but could not because he had been a citizen for more than 10 years. I am waiting for someone to suggest that the mother who killed 8 of her children should be denationalized. Surely serial infanticide is incompatible with French values.

Anonymous said...

I remember now...

The seral killer mother example is a great one (alas).

To get to the point, I agree with you: Sarkozy knows his announcement will solve nothing and will cause more problems, but it "sounds good" to his ears and thus it doesn't matter whether it implies there are people "unfit to be French" nor does it matter that all who care understood he meant people with two ID cards are more likely to kill. It's all in the same breath as sending people to jail for crimes committed by their kids and purposely confusing travellers with foreigners.
It's so transparent I'm not sure it'll work, though.

The most odious part of it is that he knows it's pointless in terms of public safety or in terms of policy and he knows it; nevertheless he speaks thus simply to redirect rejection away from himself, hoping for assent from the right and ruckus from the left. He stirs muck and goes away on a 3-week vacation, hoping the Woerth affair will be drowned in the controversy. Actual people getting hurt in the process would only be inconsequential collateral damage.
Cynicism and scapegoating rolled into one.

Anonymous said...

Finally, this smells of desperation to me: it's as if he's been at war against criminals of all stripes for ever and ever. And this latest string in scapegoating can't hide the fact that it's not gotten better, in fact it's gotten worse.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the serial killer mother wasn't a criminal because she was in psychotic denial:

bernard said...

Create two different citizenship levels:

1 those whose "French" - understand white, trust me, that's what the aryen auvergnat has in mind - credentials are old enough;

2 those whose credentials are more "recent"

As I live in Southern Africa, this definitely smells to me of apartheid one step at a time (don't worry, maybe this step will be the last, scaremongerers are of course wrong, this is just a little administrative step...). I pray everyday for former President Chirac and a few others to remain in excellent health, so that they give short shrift to these abhorent would-be laws.

And, Anonymous, do you maintain the good Doctor Petiot's French nationality on grounds that he did not shoot at a cop and has excellent French ancestry credentials, or what?

FrédéricLN said...

Agree with all the post, and read the comments. The reference to De Gaulle in another post is quite adequate, too.

The present debate around polling is a bit curious. People in France know very well that Mr Sarkozy's security policies are uneffective - they have experienced them since many years now. They would also find that granting an additional French citizenship to foreigners (double-nationals) is not on the top of the list of Human Right duties, if these foreigners are "cops-killers". They also know as well that the left is constantly dumb on security topics (the Greens being les pires des pires), and tries to hide this vacuum by shouting "Hitler!" at any announcement by Mr Sarkozy- that is the exact outcome Mr Sarkozy himself may wish. The three polls around Mr Sarkozy's announcements just assess these already self-obvious statements.

Mr Sarkozy has found quite rightly that security topics at national scale are deeply connected with a feeling of "national identity", and with the image people have and share of immigration, immigrants and (grand-)sons of immigrants.

Just because security, life and death, are connected with identity/ipseity concerns ... One of my neighbours, an old man, has just being beaten and threatened with a gun ("braqué") at his home, in July. In his very calm, cold-blooded, description of facts, I could easily hear "what about my wife, my children and grandchildren, I they shot me?"

So he will buy additional cameras, security devices, perhaps thinks about owning a gun. He thinks about moving to a safer town (he has enough money for that) but he knows, as he says, that richer towns are not safer - and stats say that, too.

He knows I stand for Democrats and did not talk about politics or Sarkozy, so I ignore his opinion. But for sure, he knows that the Arabs that threatened him - actually, one of them looked like an Arab, the two other ones had hidden their faces - and who knew how to "export" his car - would have done the same way whatever their citizenship.

But when Mr Sarkozy pretends he will deter crime, and when the politicians at the left puts all their hopes into firing Mr Sarkozy, whom will my neighbour feel nearer of his own concerns?

To make it shorter: these absurd and uneffective security policies can only be countered by more consistent and more effective security policies. And Mr Sarkozy's opponents will have to admit that, at least in people minds, security concerns at national level are some "national identity" issue: that more security for all will improve, develop our personality as a nation. Hey, why not?