Shamima Begum and Other Cases

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 4:41 pm, 11th March 2019

Save the Children said that the death of this innocent, newborn baby was an “avoidable tragedy”, and I still have not heard any satisfactory explanation from the Home Secretary as to why the Foreign Secretary said that it would be too dangerous to have brought this baby to safety, when many journalists have visited the camp that the child was in on numerous occasions. I also gently say to the Home Secretary that I am sure that some of these women who were “married” to jihadi fighters did not have much choice in the decision about whether to have children or not. I do not think those fighters were too interested in a woman’s right to withhold consent to sex, never mind women’s reproductive rights.

Last time I raised this matter, the Home Secretary was very stung by my criticism and suggestion that revoking Ms Begum’s citizenship might have been contrary to law, but in the meantime, many other lawyers, in addition to Mr Clarke, have pointed out that the basis of his decision is questionable, because it seems quite clear that Ms Begum has no right to Bangladeshi citizenship. There are claims that the Home Secretary did not consult either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General before making his decision—something that could leave him vulnerable in the event of a legal challenge. Will he tell us whether these claims are accurate, and will he refrain from retreating behind the argument that the case is sub judice, as you have already explained to him, Mr Speaker, that that is not the case?

Other countries, including the Republic of Ireland, that are faced with this situation are not depriving their citizens of citizenship, but are taking responsibility for citizens radicalised on their watch, rather than dumping them on poorer countries whose security arrangements are already strained to the nth degree. Finally, in the camps and hospitals of northern Syria, there are many more innocent children who are not British citizens. The Kurdish authorities need more help to deal with these families and these innocents fleeing Daesh. What discussions has the Home Secretary had with his Foreign Office counterparts in respect of that humanitarian aspect of the situation?