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"No easy answers" Home Secretary on Shamima Begum's case

11 March 2019 (updated on 11 March 2019)

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Diane Abbott has asked an urgent question on Shamima Begum, following the death of her baby from pneumonia in a Syrian refugee camp.

The teenager, who fled Britain to join the so-called Islamic state in 2015, at the age of 15, had expressed her desire for her child, who had British citizenship, to be raised in the United Kingdom.

Begum's British citizenship has been stripped by the Home Office, despite appeals by her family for an 'act of mercy', allowing her to return and be rehabilitated.

Speaking for the Home Office, Sajid Javid said,

"We have made it very clear since 2011, that no British citizen should travel to Syria. Those who have stayed until the bitter end include some of the most devoted supporters of Daesh. One of the ways we can deal with the threat that they pose to the UK is to remove British citizenship from those holding another nationality."

He said that the death of any child is a tragedy, but that when it comes to returning fighters, there are "no easy answers", as a precedent cannot be set that Britain will intervene to "bail out" parents who have taken their children into a warzone.

In response, Ms Abbott said,

"We believed she should have been allowed to return home because this schoolgirl was born and brought up in Bethnal Green and was Britain's responsibility."

She raised the issue of human rights, there is some question as to whether or not removing Begum's British citizenship has rendered her stateless, which would contravene Article 15 of the United Nations declaration of Human Rights. The Home Office says that she has claim to Bangladeshi citizenship due to her heritage.

Ms Abbott asked the Government to provide clarity on how they would ensure the safety of British children of mothers who have been stripped of their citizenship and cannot return.

Image: PA

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