Reading historical accounts, it is not infrequent to read about exiled persons, from Trotsky to the Puritans leaving England. And, nowadays, some look wistfully to legal ways to get rid of their undesirables, for example, Shamina Begum in the UK. While it is legally possible to expel a resident alien from your territory, my understanding is that countries can neither ban their citizens from return nor make them stateless which effectively prohibits exile of people who don't hold a dual nationality.

However, again back to history, there have been many cases of exile. When did the last "real exile" take place?

  • The exiled person is forced out of their own country. They do not choose to leave and aren't deported off to another country they are a citizen of. It is also not choosing not to return to avoid prosecution at home.

  • The exile is official, i.e. the person does not "leave for their own health" before they get arrested or the like. They are condemned and banned from entering their country and border officials could be expected to refuse entry. The expulsion is also despite recognition of their citizenship (Myanmar pretends Rohinga are not citizens).

    • To be clear, the recognition of citizenship also implies that the exile is not a deportation for immigration fraud, whether mistaken or not. Some countries have automatic retroactive processes to deny immigration, even citizenship, to people who participated in crimes against humanity, chiefly the Holocaust. To me, that's an immigration issue.

So, for example, when Baby Doc Duvalier flees Haiti and goes to live in France that is not so much an official exile as the simple recognition that he would face prosecution by authorities in his homeland. France took him in, less out of sympathy, than to give him an escape route so that he would not seek to prolong his dictatorship. Presumably Haiti let him leave to get rid of him.

On the contrary, Rome did have a legal system for removing its own citizens. And Wiki's entry on Trotsky does seem to indicate an actual exile, also indicated here.

Who last met both those criteria for a formal exile, mostly in democratic countries? It is still practiced somewhere?

  • I don't know about official exiles, but the world wars left a lot of people stateless, Svetozar Boroevic and Alexander Grothendieck being two famous examples.
    – C Monsour
    Dec 19, 2020 at 0:34
  • @CMonsour Nope, very specifically official exile. There are tons of displaced people, political refugees, etc... nowadays. Those are out of scope The Rohingas and Muslims facing deportation in Northern India do not count - the expelling country pretends they are not citizens to start with. Dec 19, 2020 at 0:40
  • 2
    Why do you think countries could not exile people, and prevent them from returning, or prosecute them if they did? Many or most may choose not to, but I can't think of anything that would prevent them from doing so if they chose.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 19, 2020 at 2:16
  • 1
    Is there a reason to think it has ceased ?
    – user15620
    Dec 19, 2020 at 18:29
  • @GorttheRobot Yes, quite a few democracies are trying to ditch their Islamic extremists but banishment is not an option as far as I know. I am just stating that there are obstacles to exiling, I am undecided on whether banishment in these cases, as bad crimes make for bad laws. Your link refers to several US cases where the exiled people returned and won monetary damage, and the rest have disputed nationality papers. Dec 19, 2020 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


There are international conventions against deprieving citizens of their right to stay (Article 13 UDHR), but like many such conventions they lack practical enforcement mechanisms unless translated into national law.

  • Various countries reserve the right to strip citizens of their citizenship (e.g. the UK). There are more or less effective safeguards against statelessness.
  • Historically, in 1976 the German Democratic Republic deprieved the singer Wolf Biermann of his citizenship while he was on a concert tour in the Federal Republic of Germany. I'm sure there are more recent cases.
  • +1 Hey, would you mind if I qualified my question with "democracies"? I don't expect for example random Middle Eastern countries to observe niceties and neither was GDR a democracy or very keen on the rule of law at that point. Dec 19, 2020 at 19:30
  • Solzhenitsyn and Bukovsky would be two Soviet examples from 1970s. Dec 19, 2020 at 23:43
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, that would still leave the first bullet point. Generally with the safeguards I mentioned. German citizenship can be lost when one voluntarily serves in a foreign army, and they tried to change the law to cover groups like ISIS -- which is not recognized as the legitimate army of a legitimate state.
    – o.m.
    Dec 20, 2020 at 5:14
  • @o.m. has anyone been kicked out of (West) Germany under those rules? Dec 20, 2020 at 5:25
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, I'm not aware of any specific cases, I just followed the debate when the laws were about to be changed.
    – o.m.
    Dec 20, 2020 at 5:46

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