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Deprivation of Citizenship Status

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:35 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for the Home Department 1:35 pm, 20th February 2019

I thank the right hon. Lady for her questions. She will know—I have said this at the Dispatch Box before—that we estimate about 900 people of national security interest left the UK at some point to join terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. We estimate that about 40% have returned and approximately 20% have died in the region. Of those who have returned, in every case we know of they have been investigated. Where there is enough evidence, they have been prosecuted for their actions.

The right hon. Lady will also understand that the part of the world they are in is a very lawless and dangerous place, so it is not always possible—in fact, it is incredibly difficult—to gather evidence of their activities that could be used to try to have a successful prosecution, either in the UK or in the other countries with which we work closely. If we have evidence, we can help to bring about prosecutions either at home or with our allies. In each case, we work carefully with them. It is always the case that the preferred outcome is always one of justice, where there is evidence and we can be sure that there can be proper legal proceedings and proper hearings. Our preference in many of cases is to see if more people can be tried in the region. As I mentioned earlier to my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke, we are working with a number of other countries to see if more work can be done together. Sadly, this challenge is not unique to the UK but is shared across many countries including our European friends.

The right hon. Lady referred to other cases, as did Sir Edward Davey. She knows that at any time any decision made by any Minister can rightfully be challenged by anyone in court. That is their right. But it would be wrong to take one particular case that may have been in the courts and apply it to all other potential cases that follow. It is worth repeating that where legal cases may have an impact, our own legal advisers, who are incredibly experienced and take these issues very seriously, would of course take them into account.

The right hon. Lady referred to the UN declaration of human rights. We absolutely abide by that and it is incredibly important that all Governments abide by it. She quoted the declaration by saying that no one should be made stateless. That is absolutely correct. No one should ever be made stateless and that is not something we would ever do. We would never take a deprivation decision if someone, as a British national, has only one nationality. We would not do that. We would not leave anyone stateless. She also suggested that these decisions are somehow arbitrary. As I said to Sir Edward Davey, each decision is taken incredibly seriously. The facts are weighed on a case-by-case basis. It is anything but arbitrary.