Bethnal Green IS teen stripped of British citizenship might ask to become a Dutch national
PUBLISHED: 12:11 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 20 February 2019
A Bethnal Green teenager who has been stripped of her British citizenship after she became a 'Jihadi bride' in Syria may bid to become a Dutch national.
Yesterday it was revealed Home Secretary Sajid Javid has made the decision about Shamima Begum after she fled to Syria at the age of 15 to support IS.
The 19-year-old now wants to return home with her newborn child who was born over the weekend.
However Shamima, who lives in a refugee camp, has said today she was ‘a bit shocked’ by the government’s action but she could ask for citizenship in Holland where her husband is from.
She said: “I am not that shocked but I am a bit shocked. It’s a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it’s a bit unjust on me and my son.”
“I heard that other people are being sent back to Britain so I don’t know why my case is any different to other people, or is it just because I was on the news four years ago?” she said.
“Another option I might try with my family is my husband is from Holland and he has family in Holland.
“Maybe I can ask for citizenship in Holland. If he gets sent back to prison in Holland I can just wait for him while he is in prison.”
Lawyers acting for Shamima’s family said they are contemplating taking legal action against the government but the Home Office has insisted that Mr Javid has the power to deprive the 19-year-old of her citizenship if it would be “conducive to the public good”, as long as it does not leave her stateless.
Mr Javid’s announcement prompted speculation that Shamima, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, holds dual citizenship, but her family lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said that she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen.
The family are “considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision”, he added.
Barrister David Anderson QC, who previously served as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said: “Those born as British citizens who are not dual nationals cannot be stripped of their citizenship in any circumstances.”
Shamima now has 28 days to lodge an appeal with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), which is independent of the Government and allows individuals to appeal against immigration decisions by the Home Office, such as deportations and the removal of citizenship.
Amendments were made to British national laws in 2014 which made it easier to strip dual nationals of their British citizenship.
These measures were primarily aimed at terrorists who could potentially undermine UK security, for example those who fled to Syria to fight and were attempting to return home.
There are two other instances when British citizenship can be removed, which are permissible even if the person would be rendered stateless.
Deprivation of citizenship can be made if a person obtained their citizenship through registration or naturalisation and the Home Secretary is “satisfied that this was obtained by fraud, false representation or the concealment of a material fact”.
Secondly, when citizenship is obtained through naturalisation and the Home Secretary believes that removing it would be “conducive to the public good” because the person acted in way which is “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of United Kingdom, any of the Islands, or any British overseas territory”.
However, this power, introduced in the Immigration Act 2014, can only be used if there are reasonable grounds for believing the person is able to acquire citizenship of another country, thereby avoiding remaining stateless.
Figures for 2017 show that 104 people were deprived of their British citizenship - up from 14 in the previous year.