Jeremy Corbyn says Shamima Begum has ‘right to return’ to UK and face questioning

‘On that return she must obviously face a lot of questions about everything she has done and at that point any action may or may not be taken’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 21 February 2019 19:39 GMT
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Jeremy Corbyn says Shamima Begum has ‘right to return’ to UK and face questioning

Shamima Begum has a “right to return” to the UK and face questioning, Jeremy Corbyn has said as he criticised the government’s decision to strip her British citizenship.

It follows Sajid Javid’s move to revoke the passport of the 19-year-old who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate at the age of 15.

Ms Begum has recently given birth at a refugee camp in northern Syria and has expressed her desire to return to the UK with her newborn son.

Speaking on Thursday, the Labour leader said Mr Javid’s actions were “very extreme” after diplomatic tensions broke out with Bangladesh denying Ms Begum had citizenship in the nation she has apparently never visited.

“She obviously has, in my view, a right to return to Britain,” Mr Corbyn told ITV News.

He continued: “On that return she must obviously face a lot of questions about everything she has done and at that point any action may or may not be taken.

“But I think the idea of stripping somebody of their citizenship when they are born in Britain is a very extreme manoeuvre indeed.

“Indeed, I questioned the right of the home secretary to have these powers when the original law was brought in by Theresa May when she was home secretary.”

Mr Javid has since defended his move and insisted he would not leave an individual stateless – which is illegal under international law – after Bangladesh denied she had citizenship there.

A statement from the nation’s foreign affairs minister Shahriar Alam also said there is “no question” Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, could enter the country.

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned Mr Javid’s move heightens fears of “a two-tiered citizenship scheme, sets a dangerous precedent and demonstrates an abdication of responsibility”.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott added: “Whenever there are reasonable grounds to suspect that someone who is entitled to return to this country has either committed or facilitated acts of terrorism, they should be fully investigated and where appropriate prosecuted. This does not appear to be the case here.

“If the government is proposing to make Shamima Begum stateless it is not just a breach of international human rights law but is a failure to meet our security obligations to the international community.

“Potential citizenship rights elsewhere are entirely irrelevant. Our fundamental freedoms do not need to be compromised; they are perfectly compatible with our safety.”

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