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The government approved an amendment to the Citizenship Act

25. June 2020 - 8:54

The government approved an amendment to the Citizenship Act, which allows the Estonian citizenship to be stripped from a person who has committed a crime against the state. According to the amendment, the government can revoke the Estonian citizenship of persons who have acquired Estonian citizenship via naturalisation, if they have been convicted of treason or terrorist offences.

Upon the amendment entering into force, the government can revoke the citizenship of persons convicted of committing serious crimes against the state, belonging to a terrorist organisation, committing or preparing terrorist offences, incitement to terrorist offences or funding and supporting acts of terror, or travelling for terrorist purposes. The amendment affects people that have acquired Estonian citizenship through naturalisation, those who have acquired it by birth cannot be stripped of their citizenship.

“According to the law currently in force, citizenship can only be revoked if a person attempts to violently change the constitutional order of Estonia. However, the law provides no grounds which would allow for the deprivation of citizenship for other serious crimes against the state. Holding Estonian citizenship is an honour and someone who has opposed their country should not have it,” explained the Minister of the Interior Mart Helme.

In the case of commitment of serious crimes against the state, it is justified to consider the revocation of citizenship even if that would leave the person without a citizenship after the revocation of Estonian citizenship. Whether a person can also be extradited from Estonia after the revocation of Estonian citizenship, would depend on the circumstances of the particular case.

According to data from the Ministry of Justice, five people have been convicted of treason, two of terrorist offences, and one for intelligence operations and supporting intelligence operations against the Republic of Estonia in 2010–2019. Of the said eight people, four have acquired Estonian citizenship by naturalisation, and of those four, two have had their citizenship revoked. The remaining persons who have committed treason or a terrorist offence have been either citizens of Estonia from birth, or citizens of another state.

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