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Uk Nationals Returning from Syria

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon 3:58 pm, 18th February 2019

There is huge concern in this country about the return of Shamima Begum. This is an individual who willingly travelled to Syria to become a supporter of a terrorist organisation. She has shown no remorse about her decision, and it appears that she wishes to return to the United Kingdom only because of the benefits that this country can offer her. Many people are very angry about that. Her case highlights the problem facing this country and the Home Secretary: as a British national without any form of dual nationality, Begum cannot be refused entry. Does the Home Secretary accept that the removal of citizenship from Britons who travelled abroad to join Daesh is prohibited under international law?

Figures from the Home Office show that 900 British nationals travelled to Syria, and up to 400 have returned. On 11 June last year, the Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime told the House that of those who had returned from Syria:

“Approximately 40 have been prosecuted so far”.—[Official Report, 11 June 2018;
Vol. 642, c. 666.]

That is a reduction on the 54 that, in May 2016, Lord Keen advised had been prosecuted, and it is still only 10% of those who went to Syria and returned.

How many British nationals have returned from Syria? How many have been prosecuted for offences? What offences were they charged with? How many have been convicted? If we do not address this issue, not only do we risk the security of the United Kingdom but we put into doubt the safety of thousands of our Muslim constituents and we put them at risk of discrimination, abuse and violence. I make a great distinction between my hard-working, law-abiding Muslim constituents and the actions of a reckless child from east London. I ask the Home Secretary to take action on this vital matter.