Home secretary refuses to confirm citizenship discussions about Bethnal Green IS teenager
PUBLISHED: 16:46 25 February 2019
Sajid Javid has refused to say if he contacted the Bangladeshi Government before deciding to remove British citizenship from Shamima Begum.
The home secretary defended his actions and said it would not leave the 19-year-old - who left Bethnal Green to join Islamic State in 2015 - stateless despite Bangladesh saying there is “no question” of her being allowed into the country.
Ms Begum, who recently gave birth in a refugee camp, had said she wished to come home to the UK.
Mr Javid was criticised by Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott during Home Office Questions in the Commons on Monday.
She said the minister had made it clear last Monday he would not take any decision on deprivation of citizenship if it was to leave a person stateless because that would be in breach of international law.
By Wednesday he had stripped it from Ms Begum, reportedly on advice she qualified for Bangladeshi citizenship through her mother, who was born there.
Ms Abbott asked: “Can the home secretary share with the House whether he contacted the Bangladeshi high commissioner or the Bangladesh Government before taking this decision?”
Mr Javid said he could not comment on “any individual case” but said any use of the power to remove citizenship is based on expert advice from officials as well as “legal advisers to make sure it is entirely lawful when it is being deployed at all times”.
He added: “Whilst I cannot talk about an individual case, it should be quite obvious that if that is the power ... the power cannot be used if someone is rendered stateless as a result of using the power.”
The cabinet minister also said the UK would not provide any help to Ms Begum’s baby boy while he is in Syria because it has “no consular presence” there.
He was asked about the child by Tory former minister David Davis, who pointed out her son was born before she had her citizenship removed and therefore has a right to British citizenship.
“What are the responsibilities, if any, of the British state to that child in this event?” he asked.
Mr Javid said the Foreign Office advice on Syria has “been clear for a number of years”, with “no consular presence, we cannot provide any consular assistance at allegation”.
He added: “Should a child be able to reach a location outside of Syria where we do have a consular presence then it is potentially possible to provide support with the consent of parents.”