Government must prove Shamima Begum is ‘threat to the country’

Shamima Begum

Shamima Begum joined ISIS when she was 15. Image: Getty

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The government will have to prove Shamima Begum poses a risk to national security in order to take away her British citizenship, according to a leading human rights lawyer.

Although it is against international law to make a person stateless, the Home Office has argued that the 19-year-old Begum can lose her British citizenship on the grounds that she is also a Bangladeshi citizen.

However human rights barrister Adam Wagner told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright that if Begum does have dual citizenship, the government must still prove she is a threat to the country.



He said: “Even if it is the case that she’s a Bangladeshi citizen, Sajid Javid still has to show that she’s a danger to the UK and that it is conducive to the public good to take her British citizenship away.

“That’s a balancing exercise, which will include all of the facts - the fact she went out as a child, that she was affected by the propaganda of ISIS, what she’s been doing when she’s out there.”

Although Sajid Javid today announced that Begum’s newborn baby boy could be given British citizenship, Mr Wagner said the child was an automatic British citizen already.

“As far as I understand her son is a British citizen, because she was a British citizen when he was born and he is therefore automatically a British citizen.

“He will have a right of entry, but the problem is it won’t be with his mum, so it gets very messy and complicated and difficult.”


"Fundamentally dishonest"

Sajid Javid arrives at Downing Street. Image: Getty

Mr Wagner said be believed the Home Secretary’s decision to publicly strip Begum of her citizenship was politically motivated, as there are other less contentious ways to prevent her entering the country.

“When a Home Secretary looks at this kind of incredibly politically-charged decision making it’s not the end of the story if the lawyers say the government might lose.

“If it’s going to take two years then it might be better for him politically to look like the tough guy, and then he can just blame the courts, when it fails.

“It’s a fundamentally dishonest approach but there it is.”