Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Sajid Javid (Bromsgrove, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether (a) senior members of the Syrian administration and (b) prominent supporters of the Syrian regime who hold joint UK and Syrian citizenship are using their UK citizenship to evade international sanctions against Syria.
Alistair Burt (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We are not aware of any persons holding joint UK and Syrian citizenship who are senior members of the Syrian administration or prominent supporters of it who are using their UK citizenship to evade international sanctions against Syria, but have asked the Home Office to investigate.
The UK enforces sanctions robustly. EU restrictive measures apply to all EU citizens. As such, in the event that any British national sought to circumvent the EU sanctions they may fall foul of the provisions in the relevant EU regulation which prohibit such circumvention. Dual UK/Syrian nationals cannot therefore use their UK citizenship to evade EU restrictive measures, such as asset freezes.
With regard to the EU travel ban, where an EU Council Decision requires a member state to prevent a specific individual's entry into, or transit through, its territory, the member state must comply with this obligation in the event that the individual seeks to enter its territory.
This obligation to enforce a travel ban does not, however, apply where an individual is seeking entry to, or transit through, the member state of which he is a citizen. This is specified in the text of the EU Council Decisions, including those on Syria. For this purpose, where a named individual holds dual citizenship that includes British citizenship, the individual's position in relation to the travel ban and any entry to the UK is the same as if the individual were solely a British citizen. The UK cannot enforce the travel ban. A separate, although related issue, has to do with such an individual's immigration position. British citizens are exempt from immigration control. There are no powers under immigration law to regulate a British citizen's entry into, or departure from, the UK. This is the case whether or not a travel ban is in force.