I will not leave Shamima Begum 'stateless', says home secretary

21 February 2019, 06:52 | Updated: 21 February 2019, 09:25

IS bride Shamima Begum will not be left "stateless", the home secretary has said.

Speaking after he revoked her British citizenship, Sajid Javid said he would not take a decision that would leave an individual with nowhere to go.

Although he has not commented directly on the case, Mr Javid appeared to confirm earlier in the week the government felt able to take such action - which would prevent her from returning to the UK - because she is a dual national or has the right to citizenship elsewhere.

Under international law, revoking someone's citizenship is only permissible if it does not leave that person stateless.

It was speculated that Shamima Begum, 19, was a dual British-Bangladeshi national.

But Bangladesh said she had never applied for dual nationality, adding that it only became aware of the situation through the media.

The former Bethnal Green schoolgirl, who fled her London home at the age of 15 to join Islamic State in Syria, has said she wants to return to the UK to raise her baby, who she recently gave birth to in a Syrian refugee camp.

After being shown a copy of the Home Office letter, Shamima Begum described Mr Javid's decision to revoke her citizenship as "a bit unjust on me and my son".

She said she might try for citizenship in the Netherlands, where her husband is from.

"I'm not going to talk about an individual," Mr Javid told ITV's Peston, "but I can be clear on the point that I would not take a decision and I believe none of my predecessors ever have taken a decision that at the point the decision is taken would leave (an) individual stateless.

"I'm not aware of any home secretary in any party in any previous government that has taken a decision that would leave anyone stateless."

The vast majority of the British public support his decision, according to a Sky Data poll.

Earlier, Mr Javid told the Commons that the rights of Shamima Begum's son were unaffected by his mother's loss of citizenship, saying that "children should not suffer".

"So, if a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child," he said.

Bangladesh's minister of state for foreign affairs, Shahriar Alam, tweeted that Shamima Begum was a "British citizen by birth and has never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh".

He added that she had "never visited Bangladesh in the past despite her parental lineage".

There was "no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh", he said.

The Begum family lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said Shamima Begum was born in the UK, had never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen, adding that whether she had been left stateless was "certainly something we will be adding to the mix in terms of our appeal".

Decisions taken to deprive someone of their citizenship are "based on all available evidence and not taken lightly", a Home Office spokesman said.

The British Nationality Act 1981 allows someone's citizenship to be removed if it is "conducive to the public good".