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  1. ITV Report

Home Secretary Sajid Javid says 'children should not suffer' if parents lose citizenship in wake of Shamima Begum case

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Sajid Javid has said the children born to those who lose their British citizenship "should not suffer" in the wake of the Shamima Begum case.

The 19-year-old, who gave birth to her son on Sunday, has had her British citizenship revoked after she fled the UK to support so-called Islamic State when she was 15.

Addressing the Commons, the Home Secretary said: "There must be consequences for those who back terror," but added "Children should not suffer. So, if a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child."

Begum left Bethnal Green for Syria four years ago and now wants to return to the UK, but the removal of her citizenship means she will be unable to do so.

In aninterview with ITV News, she said the government's decision is "kind of heart-breaking to read".

The Home Secretary told MPs: "Those who stayed [in Syria] include some of the most dangerous, including many who supported terrorism. Not least those who chose to fight or to raise families in the so-called caliphate.

"They turned their back on this country to support a group that butchered and beheaded innocent civilians, including British citizens; that tied the arms of homosexuals and threw them off the top of buildings; and that raped countless young girls, boys and women.

Begum's family are likely to challenge the decision in the courts. Credit: PA

"I have been resolute that where they pose any threat to this country, I will do everything in my power to prevent their return.

"This includes stripping dangerous individuals of their British citizenship. This power is only used in extreme circumstances where conducive to the public good."

He added: "When someone turns their back on the fundamental values and supports terror, they don't have an automatic right to return to the UK.

"We must put the safety and security of our country first and I will not hesitate to act to protect it."

Shamima Begum, right, fled the UK with Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA
104
Number of people deprived of British citizenship in 2017
900+
Number of Brits who have traveled to Syria to join IS
20%
Killed whilst fighting in the region
40%
Have returned to the United Kingdom

Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent who worked for the Metropolitan Police on the Begum case after she left the UK, has questioned the mental well-being of the new mother.

Speaking to ITV News, he spoke of his concern over the teenager's ambivalent reaction to a letter telling her family she has been stripped of her British citizenship.

He said: "If I was told that I'd lose my British citizenship, I'd be very upset and I'd be very, very shocked."

Shamima Begum left her family to go to Syria in 2015.

He went on to add that Begum had been groomed by so-called Islamic State, claiming that authorities "failed to safeguard" the teenager, despite being aware she was in contact with IS fighters.

"During that time, the police, the local authority and the school had made a decision which I believe is flawed, fundamentally flawed in their safeguarding, not to tell the parents what was happening. I find that quite shocking."