Renunciation of citizenship?

"Fischer’s attorney, Masako Suzuki, said she faxed a letter to Powell and the U.S. Embassy in Japan demanding that an American consular officer be sent to the chess great’s detention center to accept his renunciation of U.S. citizenship. "


Ok, Bobby is nuts, but can you renounce US citizenship, or can you do it by taking citizenship elsewhere? Also, what does it matter. If he isn’t a US citizen any longer, isn’t he still wanted on the charges he broke when he was?

The Master speaks:

Notice that Cecil’s columns (and the contributions from Yours Truly) refer specifically to the cases of people who want to renounce US citizenship but wish continued access and admittance to and participation in American society. Unlike Fischer who seems he would not mind if America imploded into the Earth’s mantle

Still, Bobby has a few problems with his strategy:

(a) He is abroad on an expired passport, effectively making him an undocumented alien in Japan. Why the Japanese government did not give a whit about this until now, you’d have to ask them. But, this means that he is NOT lawfully in the foreign location, giving the consular body an excellent excuse to accommodante him.

(b) He did not make his wish manifest to renounce US citizenship until he was imminently threatened with being handed over to US authorities. Indeed, he was attempting to travel around in Asia on a US passport, that happened to be expired. This can be understood as a positive assertion of US Nationality.

© As mentioned, the fact of a later change in citizenship should not affect his being triable for offenses committed when he was.

(d) As per the 1998 judiciary and administrative rulings on the issue, to ditch US citizenship voluntarily, you need to be taking on a different citizenship. What would that citizenship be for Fischer? Serbian? Japan is notorious for making naturalization virtually impossible for anyone not related closelyto an ethnic Japanese.

To NOT accommodate him! :smack:

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could dodge the law by renouncing your citizenship whenever you wanted? (Sort of like something out of O. Henry, ‘I’m in the church, I have sanctuary.’ )

It doesn’t work like that. Just like ships at sea, all people have to have a national identity. You can’t renounce in favor of ‘none of the above.’

Further, even if Bobby were to somehow transmute himself into a Mexican or a Saudi, he would still be liable for crimes he committed in the US.

Google for the guy’s homepage. He is as nutty as a fruitcake and has raisins for eyes.

This may be tinfoil hattery on my part, but the Fischer case happened to come up immediately after the Charles Jenkins case (American who defected to N. Korea in '65 and married a Japanese citizen who’d been abducted by the NK gov’t around ‘78 and just returned to Japan last year). There’d been a minor diplomatic stink between Japan and the US because Japan didn’t want to Jenkins to be arrested and were actively taking steps to avoid his extradition. Jenkins’ name has hardly been mentioned in the news since the Fischer case started.

IMO, either a deal was made with Japan being extra helpful on Fischer in exchange for the US not making such a fuss about Jenkins, or the Japanese gov’t is simply dangling Fischer in front of the J-press corp and saying, “Oooh, look! shiny!”

Wasn’t there a process some time back whereby a person could renounce their national citizenship and get “world citizenship”? Was this just a publicity stunt or did people actually do this?
Is being a “stateless person” an actual legal status under international law and what problems would they bring to such a person?

You get to have a movie made about you starring Tom Hanks.

Being stateless is a lack of status, rather than a status. A stateless person has no right to enter any particular territory, cannot get a passport and will find it extraordinarily difficult to get any kind of travel document, and has no consular or diplomatic protection from any government. As long as you stay in the place where you were born and are well-behaved, you can probably live a fairly normal life, but if you want to travel or if, because of war or disturbance, you have to travel, or if the government of the place where you happen to be takes a disllike to you, you’re in real trouble.

As for renouncing your national citizenship, whether and in what circumstances you can do this depends on the law of the country in question. I’m an Irish citizen by birth, for instance, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can do, voluntarily or involuntarily, which will cause me to lose my Irish citizenship as a matter of Irish law. And if Irish law regards me as an Irish citizen, then other countries and governments will accept that and treat me as an Irish citizen. And, while I haven’t done a survey, I think lots of countries have a similar concept of citizenship. Your citizenship is part of your identity; it cannot be taken away or disclaimed. You can acquire citizenship of other countries, but you can’t lose Irish citizenship.

There’s no such thing as a “world citizenship” because there’s no recognized authority that could grant such a citizenship. “World citizen” is only a nice way to express one’s feeling, but doesn’t have, and never had any legal existence.

Back then, there was a number of well-known stateless persons : russian dissidents who had been deprived of their soviet citizenship and had not chosen to become citizens of a western country. That’s was fine and dandy for them precisely because they were well-known, but for the average joe, being in such a situation would be a nightmare.

By the way, I believe it’s possible to get travel documents mentionning “stateless”. I suspect that how these documents are issued and whether or not they’re accepted is highly dependant on the country the stateless person live in or want to travel to. I would not be surprised if it were essentially arbitrary and case-by-case process. Someone will surely know better than me.
By the way, there are a number of people who aren’t actually stateless, but live in the same way. People with undetermined citizenship. It’s used here (and elsewhere I assume) , for instance, by some illegal immigrants who’ve been caught. They just flattly refuse to tell where they are from. If the authorities can’t determine what is their citizenship nor from where they came, they can’t deport them, obviously. Of course it means living without benefiting of most rights, and even without identity. But I guess it’s not necessarily extremely different from the life of another illegal immigrant.

Actually, I guess that from a practical point of view, the life and rights of a stateless person are probably very similar to the situation of an illegal alien. Except that the illegal alien can always go back to his country and get some diplomatic protection. But in everyday life it would probably be fairly identical. So, not a situation I would want to find myself in, but a situation that hundred of thousands people cope with all over the world.

A good friend was born in Malaysia of Chinese parents but due to some issue, wasn’t a Malaysian citizen. She was the first born, all of her younger siblings had Malaysian citizenship. She had “stateless papers” for lack of better words that she used for travel and work, and didn’t get real citizenship until she was naturalized as a US citizen.

International organisations who deal with refugees, such as the UNHCR and the Knights of Malta will issue travel documents to stateless persons. They identify you, and may confirm your refugee or displaced person status, but they don’t necessarily give you much in the way of rights. Many countries won’t accept them as passports, or will accord them very limited recognition.

For example, if country A is participating in an international refugee resettlement programme to deal with the fallout from a war in some other corner of the globe, the refugees accepted under the program may arrive with UNHCR documentation rather than national passports. But if you simply present yourself at the airport waving a UNHCR document and hoping to be admitted as a tourist, you’ll be turned away.

Knights of Malta? What do they do?

Isn’t that a recognized country and is located in part of the Vatican?

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta is a lay, religious order of the Catholic Church. For obvious reasons, it’s more usuall called the Knights of Malta or the Order of Malta.

It’s “sovereign” because it’s recognised as a sovereign by other sovereigns (although not by all other sovereigns). At various times in its history it has had territory under its control, but has had none since being thrown out of Malta by Napoleon in 1798. Nevertheless it still echanges ambassadors and diplomatic representatives with about ninety countries, and has Permanent Observer status at the UN.

It was originally a military order, but has long focussed on charitable work, principally but not exclusively medical work and disaster relief.

It has about 11,000 members. Its headquarters are in Rome (in Italian territory, not in Vatican territory) and I think that, recognising the Order as a sovereign entity, the Italian government does accord its headquarters some legal immunities. But I could be corrected on that.

Just to clarify, this may the case for natural-born Irish citizens, but it is possible for naturalised Irish citizens to lose that citizenship. I believe the UK also has provisions for withdrawing acquired citizenship, and I’d guess many other countries probably do the same.