Foreign Fighters and the Death Penalty

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 23rd July 2018.

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Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 3:43 pm, 23rd July 2018

I have listened carefully to the right hon. Lady’s statement, and I agree with much of what she said. It is not a matter of extradition, as she will know if she has read the news reports; it is a matter of whether we were going to accept a request by the United States to share evidence on individuals not within the United Kingdom, not within the European Union, but abroad. No one is extraditing anyone in this country, and we are not talking about UK citizens, so the premise of her question in the first place is, I am afraid, skewed.

However, I will try to answer the questions the right hon. Lady has put to the House. First, she asked why the Home Secretary did not come to the House to announce a change in policy. That is because he has not changed the policy of the United Kingdom Government. The overseas security and justice assistance guidance clearly states

“that there will be cases where, as an exception to the general policy and taking into account the specific circumstances, Ministers can lawfully decide that assistance should be provided in the absence of adequate assurances”.

That has been the policy for many, many years. All Ministers have done is consider, in response to a request from one of our allies to seek evidence on individuals detained elsewhere, whether we should share that evidence and whether we should seek assurances in doing so.

I notice that the right hon. Lady mentioned Mrs Foley. I heard that interview this morning, too, and Mrs Foley also said that she thought it was right that these people face justice in US courts. Who are we to deny that to those victims in the United States, if the United Kingdom holds some of the evidence that may make it possible? The United States has the rule of law and due process, as do we in this country. In our many mutual legal assistance requests—there are more than 8,000 a year among countries and police forces around the world—we do it on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the law. Throughout the process, other Ministers and I consulted lawyers. We constantly checked with existing guidance and the policy.

We should not forget that the crimes we are talking about involve the beheading, and videoing of the beheading of dozens of innocent people by one of the most abhorrent organisations walking this earth. It would be bizarre to say that if we were unable to prosecute them in this country, we should simply let them be free to roam around the United Kingdom so as not to upset the right hon. Lady. Not to share our evidence with the United States would be simply bizarre and would not be justice for the victims.