Can the Home Secretary prevent Shamina Begum returning to the UK?

The Home Secretary has said that he will prevent the return to the UK of Shamina Begum, the Isis bride from Bethnal Green:

My message is clear” he told The Times, “if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return.”

Opinions differ on whether it would be right to allow her to return to Britain. The brother of the murdered hostage Alan Henning, for example, believes she should “absolutely not” be allowed back into the country. He speaks for many.

Others take a more forgiving line, arguing that when she left she was only 15 years old; she has been groomed or brainwashed, and is perhaps not without hope of rehabilitation. Moreover, she now has a new-born baby. Whatever she may have done, her baby is innocent.

Ms Begum’s recent media appearances have been a master-class in digging from the bottom of an already deep hole.

What, though, is the legal position? Can the Home Secretary “prevent her return”?

In normal times we could simply ask the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation Terror Watchdog – Lord Anderson QC or Max Hill QC were the most recent holders of that office – but the post is currently unfilled, so perhaps a note of confusion has crept into the press coverage. Though I am more companion-dog than watchdog, the law is reasonably clear.

She is a British citizen. She does not, as far as we know, have dual citizenship with any other country. There are all sorts of complicated varieties of British citizens (Overseas Citizens, overseas territory citizens etc.) who have varying rights to live in Britain, but no-one has ever suggested that Ms Begum was anything other than a full British Citizen with the corresponding “right of abode” in Britain: see Immigration Act 1971 S.2 (1) (a).

There have been some suggestions that she might have acquired Dutch nationality through the Dutch husband, an ISIS fighter who she married in Raqqa. Whilst ultimately a question of Dutch law, it seems vanishingly unlikely that The Netherlands would grant Dutch citizenship on the basis of an “ISIS” marriage; and it would be ludicrous for the UK to rely on such a marriage in order to provide a veneer of legality to the removal of her British citizenship.

Citizenship rules for babies born outside the UK are rather fiddly, but the bottom line is that if Ms Begum is a British citizen, and if she was herself born in the UK, her baby will be British.

Can she be stripped of her British citizenship?

If it could be done, this would be the simplest way of preventing her return, but it probably cannot be done.

At first glance it seems that it might be possible.

S.40 (2) of the Nationality Act 1981 provides:

The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good.”

Given Ms Begum’s chillingly blasé attitude towards finding severed human heads in the dustbin, her support for a terrorist organisation that has been unparalleled in its brutality, and her apparent lack of any repentance it would be easy to conclude that whatever “the public good” means, depriving Ms Begum of her British citizenship would be conducive to it.

As often with the law, however, things are not quite that simple. S.40 (4) places an important restriction on the Home Secretary’s power to strip someone of their citizenship:

The Secretary of State may not make an order under subsection (2) if he is satisfied that the order would make a person stateless.”

If her British citizenship were removed then, assuming she is not also a citizen of another country she will become stateless. (Even if she could become a citizen of another country, removing her British citizenship would still have the effect of making her stateless and thus forbidden by S.40 (4): see al-Jedda [2013] UKSC 62)

Subject to those caveats, S.40 (4) thus prevents Mr Javid depriving her of citizenship.

S.40 (4A) of the Act does in fact provide for naturalised citizens to be made stateless where they have conducted themselves “in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom” but only where:

the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is able, under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, to become a national of such a country or territory.

In summary then:

As far as we know Ms Begum was born a British citizen.

As far as we know  she is not a citizen of any other country, and she cannot automatically become the national “of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom.” Even if the Islamic State still existed as a de facto territory, its legal existence has never been recognised by the UK. On these assumptions, the Home Secretary cannot invalidate her British citizenship.

And even if she could be stripped of her British citizenship, that would potentially create a new set of problems. Should she manage to reach Britain (and there is no reason to believe that other countries would particularly want to keep her), it would be difficult to refuse her entry, not least because it would be impossible to deport her anywhere else. We would not want her to remain living indefinitely at Heathrow Airport like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, and it is hardly realistic to say that she should be detained as an illegal entrant for the rest of her life.

So if she can’t be stripped of her citizenship, can she just come back to Britain?

As with many legal questions, the answer is “yes and no.”

At present she can come back, but the Home Secretary is not without legal powers to control her return, although not to prevent it altogether.

Well, tell us what he can do.

Mr Javid could issue a “temporary exclusion order” (“TEO”) under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. A TEO is an order preventing a British citizen returning otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of a permit. It was Parliament’s answer to the conundrum of how to deal with British citizens who could not be stripped of their citizenship, but who could nevertheless be dangerous if simply allowed to return and disappear. Although described as a “temporary exclusion order,” and although limited in the first instance to a duration of two years, this period can be extended: so the orders are not necessarily as temporary as they sound. The effect would be that Ms Begum’s passport (should she possess one) would be invalidated. Her citizenship, however, would not be.

So if he issues one of these TEOs does that mean he can keep her out, at least for two years?

No, a TEO doesn’t necessarily prevent her returning to Britain. However, once a TEO is in force there are only two ways Ms Begum could legally do so.

The first is that she could be deported here. At present that seems rather unlikely, there being no functioning government in the part of Syria where she is living. On the other hand, were she (for example) to find herself in neighbouring Turkey or Iraq the authorities might choose to deport her to Britain, and we would then have to accept her.

The other, and more likely alternative, would be by Ms Begum herself applying for what is known as a “permit to return.” If Ms Begum were to ask for such a permit, the Act says that the Home Secretary must issue one.

Invalidating her passport is pointless then? All she has to do is ask for one of these “permits to return” and she can just come back to Bethnal Green?

No, not at all. Once she has applied for a permit, the Home Secretary has to issue one, but he can impose conditions. One of those could be that she presents herself for interrogation by the police before she even sets foot on British soil. If she doesn’t turn up to meet the police he can refuse to issue a permit, or cancel one if already issued.

He can also impose conditions on her subsequent behaviour once she is back in the UK. Typically these could include, for example, a requirement to live at a particular address, not to leave a particular area, and to attend regular appointments with the police or other officials. If she fails to comply, she can be arrested and prosecuted.

So will he issue a TEO?

Very likely. There are a number of conditions which have to be met, the most important of which in this case is that he must “reasonably suspect” that Ms Begum:

… is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity outside the United Kingdom.”

Terrorism related activity” is very widely defined in S.14 and can include “conduct that gives encouragement to the commission, preparation or instigation of such acts, or is intended to do so.” The Home Secretary does not need to be sure that Ms Begum has been so involved; he need only have reasonable suspicion. No doubt he has that already.

Although there is a degree of judicial scrutiny involved in the issue of a TEO, it is very limited. In an urgent case the Home Secretary can himself issue a TEO his decision is then reviewed by a court. If the case is not so urgent, he must ask a court to issue the order, but it can only refuse to do so, or quash a TEO already made, if the Home Secretary’s decision is “obviously flawed.” As in a judicial review, the issuing or reviewing Court is not allowed to substitute its own view for that of the Home Secretary, it can intervene only if the decision is patently absurd (what lawyers term “Wednesbury unreasonable” after a famous 1948 case involving Wednesbury Corporation), or the decision making process of the Home Secretary has been demonstrably unfair. And just to make doubly sure that a TEO is not improperly refused by a soggy liberal judge, only the Home Secretary is allowed to appeal the court’s decision. The subject of the TEO has no right of appeal.

The baby, of course, cannot be made subject to a TEO. It could return to Britain whatever orders are imposed on Ms Begum. Once on British soil it is quite likely that social services would take an interest in its welfare.

This TEO thing is all very well, but it’s no substitute for sending her to prison, is it? Surely she should be prosecuted and we should throw away the key? She’s a traitor.

There is an array of offences with which Ms Begum could conceivably be charged, although the evidential difficulties of proving most of them are fairly formidable.

Some have been calling for her to be prosecuted for treason. This is exceptionally unlikely.

If it could be shown that she had actively assisted ISIS members in fighting against British forces, it might be said that she had “traitorously adhered to enemies of the Queen,” part of the particulars in the charges laid against the last man to be tried for treason, William Joyce, better known as the American-born Nazi propagandist, Lord Haw Haw. Whether such ISIS terrorists fighting an undeclared war would be considered “enemies of the Queen” is one of several imponderables.

But there have been no prosecutions for treason since that of Joyce in 1945. Archbold, the criminal lawyers’ “bible” has for the last ten years attenuated its section on treason, asserting that “it is unlikely in the extreme that there will in the foreseeable future be any such prosecutions.” Unless some extraordinary new information comes to light it is surely inconceivable that a teenager who moved to the Islamic State when she was a child will become the first person to be charged with treason since 1945.

If it can be proved that Ms Begum had any involvement in the murder or torture of prisoners, then she can be tried in Britain for those offences.

What, though, if all she did was to travel to Syria intending to marry and have babies? What if she simply turned a blind eye to the evil surrounding her, or if (which amounts to the same thing) it cannot be proved that she did not do so. Her interview with The Times’s Anthony Loyd – which may of course be rather self-serving – suggests that for much of the time she led a life of dull domesticity.

One possible charge then might be that under S.11 of the Terrorism Act 2000, of “membership of a proscribed organisation.” This provides that:

(1) A person commits an offence if he belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation.”

There is no doubt that ISIS is a proscribed organisation, and it was so proscribed when she left the UK.

Does she “belong or profess to belong” to it by moving to IS controlled territory and marrying an IS fighter? I can see considerable scope for argument. The leading case on S.111 does not give much help on what is meant by “belonging” to a proscribed organisation. It is said to be an ordinary English word, although the “core concept” embraces:

… voluntary and knowing association with others with a view to furthering the aims of the proscribed organisation.”

That might cover her behaviour.

What would her punishment be for belonging to ISIS?

There are sentencing guidelines for belonging to a proscribed organisation. They deem all such organisations as equally “harmful” for sentencing purposes, but divide culpability into three categories:

A. Prominent member of organisation

B. Active (but not prominent) member of organisation

  1. All other cases

The sentencing guidelines suggest sentences ranging from 5 – 9 years for Category A, to a high level community order – 4 years imprisonment for Category C. However, the guidelines are applicable only to adults. She went to Syria when she was 15. If applicable at all, the guideline sentences would apply only to her behaviour after her eighteenth birthday.

In a different context, a 15 year old girl persuaded to leave home, travel to a war zone and marry an older man would be considered the victim of child sexual exploitation. Indeed, some of those demanding the harshest punishment for Ms Begum are those who have in the past expressed the most vociferous support for “white girls” groomed by “Muslim grooming gangs.” ISIS is itself a particularly nasty and sophisticated grooming gang.

Any sentencing judge would have a difficult task in deciding the extent to which her own “grooming” by ISIS amounted to mitigation of any crimes which she might have committed. Many might take the view that despite her four year association with one of the world’s cruellest terrorist organisations, and for all her current apparent indifference to its barbarities, Ms Begum is not beyond hope of rehabilitation.

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Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

49 thoughts on “Can the Home Secretary prevent Shamina Begum returning to the UK?”

    1. Is he currently resident in the Netherlands? It’s probably necessary. Even if he were, if Dutch law is anything like UK law she would also have to be resident there for some years before she had any such entitlement.

    2. The point is, when the HS made his order yesterday, she had no present right to claim citizenship of country other than the UK. So his order was unlawful, and liable to be set aside. She might *claim* residence of a dozen other countries but it may take years to be accepted if at all.

  1. How are 15-year-olds able to buy airline tickets, and travel alone to Turkey without an adult?
    I feel that whoever bought the ticket, and the airline involved should share responsibility for this.

  2. Congratulations on a clear and well developed post, Matthew.

    I do hope the Home Secretary gets to read it as all the ‘grandstanding’ in the media last week was unhelpful in my opinion, and reflected an ignorance of the law and his powers under it .

  3. Her interview, where she mentioned seeing severed heads in a basket, took place in a camp, where no doubt IS supporters are living. I would like to see her interviewed again when she is not under threat of reprisals for what she says. If, then, she is still blase about the actions of the IS, then I would throw the legal book at her as soon as she set foot in the UK. My guess is that she was mindful of what she said to the journalist, as she would have to carry on living there if her request to return to the UK was denied.

    I don’t believe in making examples of people, but to lay the red carpet out for her and let her carry on with her life as though she’d just run away to marry a foreign waiter after meeting him on a family holiday, and is now regretful of her actions, is not the answer. Her community in the UK are the ones who should be involved in her de-radicalisation and I hope they step up to the plate and assist the authorities with trying to stop young people from being brainwashed by these cults in the future.

  4. There are many countries where being married to one of their nationals does not give an automatic right to citizenship* – so I would suggest we don’t know whether she actually is “entitled to a Dutch passport”.

    PDR

    *I believe the UK is one of them, but I could be wrong

  5. Thanks.
    I think you have covered the ground well regarding Shamima Begum.
    However, there are other options to consider:

    She is entitled to apply for Dutch citizenship, so she would not necessarily become “stateless.”
    There are hundreds of thousands of “stateless persons” in Syria or various backgrounds, so her situation would not be abnormal, if she did become “stateless” anyway.
    It would be interesting to know if she was deprived of her citizenship whilst in Syria, whether there could be some circumstances which did not break our law ?
    As for her child, it is not “her” child but “their” child.
    Under Sharia law the child takes the name of the father.
    If she either gave birth in the UK or took the child to the UK after birth, surely the child’s father and her husband would be entitled to join her ?
    Has she been told by her husband to take the action she is taking ?
    We do not know. This could be all part of their plan.
    He surrendered to the Kurdish dominated SDF and is in their custody.
    The ideal situation would be for both her and her husband to be questioned by both the Syrian and the Kurdish authorities. They are the ones who will know if either Shamima or her husband have been complicit in any war crimes. It is their country which has had havoc wrecked upon them by ISIS Daesh, and they should have the right to follow through on any injustices the couple may have committed.
    The UK government has in fact very little intelligence on jihadists in the country of Syria compared with the Syrian government, who we unfortunately do not share intelligence with.
    However, the UK government does have at least some influence with the Kurdish and Iraqi authorities, so in the short term that influence should be used to keep the couple in Syria.
    It is not impossible for Syria, because of their successful reconciliation programme for former jihadists, for the couple to be offered Syrian citizenship. At least the couple could then try and put right some of the damage ISIS Daesh did to Syria.
    Anthony Webber

      1. There is an argument that Obama created ISIS Daesh and that they would never have got any progress without support and funding from a number of countries and individuals.
        There is also an argument that at crucial times, the Syrian Army has been bombed when it is has been in a predominant position against ISIS Daesh. It is also maintained that on a number of occasions, USA helicopter have rescued ISIS Daesh leaders, and the latest accusation is that USA helicopters have rescued ISIS Daesh leaders and all their gold.
        However, whatever has been going on, it does not forgive individuals for their motivations and acts of attrocities.

  6. Good piece, but for the record, it was Alan Henning that was murdered by “Jihadi John”. Alan’s brothers are Reg & Paul. RIP Alan

  7. It has been asserted that “she” was born in Bangladesh, and was moved, with her parents to the UK when she was very young. Without having the slightest information about Bangladesh citizenship, it could be that, as with several Australian politicians, she has what might be called “dormant dual nationality”!

  8. wd have thought mafia 5 would be trying to recruit her…..

    but i was born in this cuntry, not ‘allowed’ to live or work here and i’m banned from leaving, i don’t believe any of that is legal either but it’s precisely my point…there is no rule of law, they can do whatever they like so pointless talking about it….

  9. Thank you for this thoughtful and habitually objective analysis.

    I would certainly argue that she is not beyond hope of rehabilitation, and was profoundly shocked that the Home Secretary, ‘inspired’ by his predecessor, should have felt able to mouth off in the way he did, with no sense of reserve, no reluctance to interfere in judicial process, or concern about compromising due process. She was a child when she fled to Syria, whatever her reasons for so doing may have been, and is still a youth. She is carrying a British baby, who is entirely innocent, and the UK has a duty of care towards that baby, just as it has – as I also publicly asserted as soon as Mr Javid made his comments – a legal duty towards Ms Begum, even if an investigation should reveal that she could face charges for any activities she may have been involved with before or after leaving the U.K. The leap to public condemnation before having any idea of the facts is deeply disturbing, as are the calls for radical ‘punishment’, even open expressions of desire to see her and her child die some awful death on foreign soil.

    Thank God we still have (for a few weeks at least) a genuinely independent judiciary, and that the UK’s membership of the ECHR has not yet been rescinded. It will undoubtedly be, because the Conservative party has shown itself opposed to anything that restricts the Government’s desire to exercise untrammelled power without being held to account (see the Article 50 fiasco).

    1. Yep. But Europe exported Abu Hamza to be tortured by a foreign power….so where is the rule of flaw there? It is quite clearly still (I believe) to allow extradition to cuntries that torture people? It’s all about power, no rule of law…never really has been. Also when you still have a serving MP who is also on the record as being a member of PIE and publicly stating there is no harmful effects to a child of adults having sex with them (I forget the exact quote) sitting as CHAIR on the supposed Human Right’s Commission that we have in this cuntry…..well you can’t really hang a BIGGER lantern on it can you? And what she did as Home Secretary makes her a war criminal as well. But British subjects get ass raped in mental prisons for these days for talking about such things. Now just watch out for those delinquent fetuses! Some of them may have actually grown up by now!

    2. “I would certainly argue that she is not beyond hope of rehabilitation”

      You’ve had a long debrief with her? Or is that based on your “feelings”!

      “and was profoundly shocked that the Home Secretary, ‘inspired’ by his predecessor”

      And with them? Or is that your feelings again!

      “She was a child”

      She was 15+1/2 and many would insist she was nearly old and wise enough to vote, especially in matters pertaining to article 50!

      “when she fled to Syria, whatever her reasons for so doing……

      Torture? Her life threatened by worse than ISIS?!

      “She is carrying a British baby, who is entirely innocent, and the UK has a duty of care towards that baby…”

      Why do I have the feeling that in other circumstances you would be arguing she was being forced to carry a clump of (identical DNA, no man involved, Virgin Conception, just a malignant part of her body) cells – amazing how far a 15+1/2 year old “woman’s” right to choose extends!

      “a legal duty towards Ms Begum”

      If we were her father we wouldn’t even have the right to know she was pregnant, even when she was 15+1/2, so why are we now in loco parentis, especially as if she were already back, still 15+1/2, we were her actual parents, and we tried to help her, the police would be threatening to arrest us for our trouble (and anyone whistleblowing about her real, nevermind cyber, grooming, such as yourself, would be up before the beak!)!

      “The leap to public condemnation before having any idea of the facts is deeply disturbing, as are the calls for radical ‘punishment’, even open expressions of desire to see her and her child die some awful death on foreign soil.”

      Phew, she’s lucky she’s only a Jihadi Bride, and not a MAGA hat wearer, or even Trump (or a Leaver, not to mention Farage, Tommy Robinson or EDL marcher)!

      “Thank God we still have (for a few weeks at least) a genuinely independent judiciary, and that the UK’s membership of the ECHR has not yet been rescinded. It will undoubtedly be, because the Conservative party has shown itself opposed to anything that restricts the Government’s desire to exercise untrammelled power without being held to account (see the Article 50 fiasco).”

      Did someone mention:

      “The leap to public condemnation before having any idea of the facts is deeply disturbing”?!

      1. It is really rather difficult to attempt to reason with anyone whose mind seems so made up that they are incapable even of reading the text before their eyes.

        The notion that someone of her age is “not beyond hope of rehabilitation” is based on many years’ involvement at the coalface, including sentencing, and extensive experience of alternative forms of rehabilitation to straight custody, including restorative justice. I would contend that your air-plucked assumptions are much less founded in reality, Mr Mann, than my evidence-based judgement.

        My views on successive Home Secretaries, and the likely influence of Theresa May on Mr Javid’s decision to seek to interfere in judicial process, are equally evidence-based, and nothing to do with “feelings” (had I instead chosen to indulge in talk about feelings, I would probably have employed terminology such as “revulsion”). Do you remember TM’s discredited ECHR “cat” story?

        Michael: “She was a child.”

        Mr Mann: “She was 15+1/2 and many would insist she was nearly old and wise enough to vote, especially in matters pertaining to article 50!”

        She was indeed a child. And if you raped a 15 year old, it would still be statutory rape, Mr Mann.

        Michael: “when she fled to Syria, whatever her reasons for so doing……”

        Mr Mann: “Torture? Her life threatened by worse than ISIS?!

        Your suggestions are ludicrous, and do more than anything to reveal the paucity of your position.

        Michael: “She is carrying a British baby, who is entirely innocent, and the UK has a duty of care towards that baby…”

        Mr Mann: Why do I have the feeling that in other circumstances you would be arguing she was being forced to carry a clump of (identical DNA, no man involved, Virgin Conception, just a malignant part of her body) cells – amazing how far a 15+1/2 year old “woman’s” right to choose extends!

        All those “feelings”, Mr Mann, plucked from your own prejudices…

        Michael: “a legal duty towards Ms Begum”

        Mr Mann: “If we were her father we wouldn’t even have the right to know she was pregnant, even when she was 15+1/2, so why are we now in loco parentis, especially as if she were already back, still 15+1/2, we were her actual parents, and we tried to help her, the police would be threatening to arrest us for our trouble (and anyone whistleblowing about her real, nevermind cyber, grooming, such as yourself, would be up before the beak!)!”

        I’ll forgive you the lack of question marks, etc. I myself was lost before the end of your first clause.

        I can’t even begin to conceive of the substances you may have ingested or the experiences through which you have dragged yourself, Mr Mann, for you to have such an apparent obsession with parental responsibility and children below the age of legal consent.

        As for “whistleblowing” about grooming et al., I’d see the situation somewhat differently. Rather than seeking to hide any evidence, I’d expect that anything germane and pertinent be disclosed to the relevant judge, and made subject to the necessary reporting restrictions.

        I would, however, ask for a public apology from you for your unequivocal suggestion that my comments involved any form of “whistleblowing”, let alone such as to expose me to criminal charges before “the beak” (which could only be the Chief Magistrate or her Deputy, given their jurisdiction).

        1. I note that it is acceptable to write:

          Michael says:
          February 18, 2019 at 10:11 pm

          “It is really rather difficult to attempt to reason with anyone whose mind seems so made up that they are incapable even of reading the text before their eyes…..”

          “….I would contend that your air-plucked assumptions are much less founded in reality, Mr Mann, than my evidence-based judgement……”

          “….if you raped a 15 year old, it would still be statutory rape, Mr Mann…..”

          “…….Your suggestions are ludicrous, and do more than anything to reveal the paucity of your position…..”

          “……All those “feelings”, Mr Mann, plucked from your own prejudices…”

          “…..I can’t even begin to conceive of the substances you may have ingested or the experiences through which you have dragged yourself, Mr Mann, for you to have such an apparent obsession with parental responsibility and children below the age of legal consent….”

          “…..I would, however, ask for a public apology from you for your unequivocal suggestion that my comments involved any form of “whistleblowing”, let alone such as to expose me to criminal charges before “the beak” (which could only be the Chief Magistrate or her Deputy, given their jurisdiction).”

          ———-

          And yet it is not permitted to respond to the insults and insinuations, never mind rebut the “evidence” based “judgements”!

    3. So you have all the facts Michael ? You seem to be making assumptions based on your own feelings and yet criticizing others for doing the same. But I see by the content and tone of your reply that you are one of the PC Remoaner types and probably part of the legal profession. There…I made some assumptions also.
      One only has to look at our legal system to see its inhabited by liberal bedwetters intent on circumventing common sense, public mood and decency. Their favorite weapon of course is the ECHR and HR legislation.
      Look at the case of Stephen Wood/Karen White and you only have to see the PC lunatics have truly taken over the asylum. For the uninitiated….convicted pedophile male accused of rape identifies as a woman at trial, PC brigade interfere and he’s sent to a women’s prison where he sexually assaults female inmates within days. Well fuck me …..who’d have thought he would do that ? / Sarc

  10. As I understand it, child sexual exploitation and grooming are regarded as separate crimes (here). Is it arguable that Begum was neither sexually exploited nor groomed? Could it be argued that, instead, she simply decided – like a number of women of 18 and over – that she supported ISIS and wanted to join the organization. She knew full well the barbarism the ISIS was involved in, that she would be married off in short order and that her role would be having babies to produced the jihadis of the future. Was any wool pulled over her eyes?

    If as a 15-year-old, she wasn’t deemed competent to make such a decision about her life, are 15-year-olds competent to vote in elections?

    1. Whether it’s right or wrong, it is hard to see how, under the Modern Slavery Act, those who arranged her travel to Syria, knowing she was an intended bride aged 15, would not be guilty of a trafficking offence. Her consent is immaterial. Sometimes children have to be protected from themselves.

      1. “Sometimes children have to be protected from themselves.”

        Have any of the adults in positions of authority vis a vis “Asian Grooming” had their collars felt yet?

        Could we have a blog on the legal duties and responsibilities (and punishments for failure) of everyone from social workers through councillors to the police?

  11. Banishment is a punishments which has been employed for centuries. Any reason why the government could not put a law on the statute books stating that the punishment for joining a terrorist group is banishment – whether permanent or for a set number of years?

  12. I checked, and it seems that the children of Bangladesh are automatically Bangladeshi citizens, this would include this woman.
    Would this enable withdrawal of UK citizenship?
    Personally, I doubt the government would do this, but I am interested in the technical possibility

    1. If it is the case that she’s automatically Bangladeshi, and probably also if she’s automatically entitled to become Bangladeshi, yes it would make a difference. A dual national would not become stateless and the Home Sec could deprive her of British citizenship under S.40 (2). I have assumed that her parents are British.

      1. Matthew, you imply that a person may have the status of ‘not currently a citizen of country X, but would be entitled to become one if they were to apply’. This status seems to me a bit murky.

        Suppose a person claims to be entitled to a certain citizenship by virtue of ancestry, but is unable to prove that ancestry through the usual standard documentation, notably birth certificates and marriage certificates; perhaps the documents were lost or never made at all. They might offer instead some evidence of ancestry based on non-standard documentation such as baptism certificates, tax records, school records, records of service in the armed forces etc. But there is no certainty that the authorities would accept these as adequate to prove the ancestry.
        Such a person would have the status of ‘not currently a citizen of country X, but might well get citizenship if they were to apply, but maybe not, since it would depend whether or not at the time of some future application the authorities were prepared to accept non-standard documentation.’

        Again, suppose a person appears to meet all the criteria, and so could become a citizen of a certain country whenever they apply. But suppose that one of the criteria is proficiency in a certain language, and this person manifestly speaks the language well above the standard required. Should we say that such a person currently belongs to that ‘entitled’ category? We can’t know in advance whether they would pass the language test; it seems very likely, but still they might have such an attack of nerves on the day that they fail, and so don’t meet that criterion and don’t become a citizen.

        1. Wikipedia states

          “Begum was born to Bangladeshi parents in Tower Hamlets, East London, England in 1999. She was largely brought up by her mother Shahnaz Begum until 2007, when her father, Mohammad Uddin, moved to Britain.”

          and

          “Bangladeshi citizenship is provided primarily jus sanguinis, or through bloodline, irrespectively of the place or legitimacy of the birth.[2] Therefore, any person born to a Bangladeshi woman illegitimately outside Bangladeshi soil would still be a Bangladeshi citizen, whereas a person born to two non-nationals in Bangladesh would not. ”

          So, in common with Ireland for example, you don’t “apply” for citizenship, it automatically exists from birth if your parents are citizens. I assume her father and mother are both Bangladeshi citizens, if so she is already a Bangladeshi citizen.

          1. Tony’s post on 19 February shows the dangers of relying on Wikipedia. The passages he quotes are too loosely expressed and are not an accurate statement of what is found from the Bangladesh Citizenship Act 1951. Please see my post this morning.

            His comment about Ireland is wrong: If one of your grandparents was born in Ireland but your parent (the child of that grandparent) was not, then your parent was automatically an Irish citizen at birth. You are entitled to Irish citizenship but (unless you were born in Ireland yourself) you first have to apply to go on the Foreign Births Register. Your citizenship then takes effect only from registration. Irish and Bangladesh law are quite similar in their distinction between citizenship by birth and citizenship by descent.

      2. It has been reported that a child born of Bangladhesi parent(s) is automatically a Bangaldeshi citizen. The caveat is that this remains in force until the age of 21 and if at that stage the person has made no attempt to continue with his/her nationality it essentially lapses.
        As she is 19, she would still be regarded by Bangladesh as a citizen and this is probably where the UK government are looking at the possibility of removing British citizenship because at this stage she would not be “stateless” which is against international law.
        There are also other aspects such as she has no passport or documents, there is no UK consular services available and the government has said it will not endanger UK lives to help her.

        1. Frankly I have no idea whether she’s a Bangladeshi citizen or not. The Home Secretary may think she is, but the Bangladeshi government says she’s not. Philippe Sands QC te other day said he’d spoken to Bangladeshi lawyers who say she isn’t. It’s anyone’s guess.

          But even if she is a Bangladeshi citizen, I can’t really see why she should be Bangladesh’s problem. She’s our problem and we need to deal with her in accordance with our law.

    1. Can I point out that there are (at least) two people posting as ‘Michael’ here, and that I dissociate myself from the individual who found Mr Mann’s comments “Quite right” and even more strongly from the person who screams that we should “Hang the tramp” and “swing her from a tree”? It may be that they are one and the same poster.

      I shall in future identify my comments as coming from ‘Michael H’.

  13. Shamima Begum, who joined the Islamic State group in Syria aged 15, is to lose her UK citizenship, the family’s lawyer has said.

    1. Her citizenship has purportedly been revoked. Now we shall see if Matthew’s analysis works in practice as well as it did in theory. If her facts don’t fit the provisions under which the purported revocation was made, the courts will likely quash the revocation.

      This woman is the UK’s problem. We shouldn’t even be trying to twist the arms of other countries such as (it has been suggested) Bangladesh and Holland.

  14. Hahaha…you sad terrorist defending lefty loonie! Må Begum is Bangladeshi, and has just been stripped of her British citizenship, which should be done to all muslims with dual citizenship!

  15. Very interested in your thoughts on the latest development! Having read your blog I’m baffled by the Home Secretary’s statement. Though perhaps shouldn’t be given how much the current government seem to be making it up as they go along…

  16. #3

    (My *EMPHASIS*)

    Michael says:
    February 18, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    It is really rather difficult to attempt to reason with anyone whose mind seems so made up that they are incapable even of reading the text before their eyes.

    ……..I would contend that your air-plucked assumptions are much less founded in reality, Mr Mann, than my evidence-based judgement.

    My views on successive Home Secretaries, and the likely influence of Theresa May on Mr Javid’s decision to seek to interfere in judicial process, are equally evidence-based, and nothing to do with “feelings” (had I instead chosen to indulge in talk about feelings, I would probably have employed terminology such as “revulsion”). Do you remember TM’s discredited ECHR “cat” story……?

    …..And if you *RAPED* a 15 year old, it would still be statutory rape, Mr Mann.

    Michael: “when she *FLED* *TO* Syria, whatever her reasons for so doing……”

    Mr Mann: “Torture? Her life threatened by worse than ISIS?!

    Your suggestions are ludicrous, and do more than anything to reveal the paucity of your position……

    …..All those “feelings”, Mr Mann, plucked from your own prejudices…

    ……I can’t even begin to conceive of the substances you may have ingested or the experiences through which you have dragged yourself, Mr Mann, for you to have such an apparent *OBSESSION* *WITH* parental responsibility and *CHILDREN* *BELOW* the age of legal consent…..

    …….I would, however, ask for a public apology from you for your unequivocal suggestion that my comments involved any form of “whistleblowing”, let alone such as to expose me to criminal charges before “the beak” (which could only be the Chief Magistrate or her Deputy, given their jurisdiction).

  17. As usual we have seen the liberal progressives out in the media defending her saying she was a child, coerced, groomed and so on and that we should take her back for rehabilitation. These are of course the same leftard chatterati’s that condemned the US Covington school boys as racists on the flimsy evidence of a short video showing them being verbally abused by religious and political bigots – but of course these bigots were ethnic minorities…so that’s OK in their world view. Even when the full video showed the boys were totally innocent the PC brigade would not apologize.
    So in the world inhabited by the progressive PC left its OK for a terrorist who shows no remorse to be allowed back, but a bunch of white schoolboys are vilified as racists and white supremacists for no reason except they wore MAGA caps apparently. What a twisted world view the left have.

  18. Matthew has given us an excellent summary about Shamina Begum’s case, including the legal position on her citizenship.

    The only point I want to pick up here is his comment: “She does not, as far as we know, have dual citizenship with any other country.”

    While I agree that none of us knows for sure, on what we can see publicly it does seem likely to me that she is and was a Bangladesh citizen and has not been left stateless.

    I am working from the version of the Bangladesh Citizenship Act 1951 found online at http://bdlaws.minlaw.gov.bd/pdf_part.php?id=242 . While I can’t vouch for its accuracy there is no sensible reason why anyone should be putting up a false, doctored version.

    Section 4 of the same 1951 Act says:

    Every person born in Bangladesh after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of Bangladesh by birth:

    (There are provisos which appear to have no relevance, so I don’t set them out here.)

    Section 5 of the Bangladesh Citizenship Act 1951 says:

    Subject to the provisions of section 3 a person born after the commencement of this Act, shall be a citizen of Bangladesh by descent if his 1[ father or mother] is a citizen of Bangladesh at the time of his birth:

    Provided that if the 2[ father or mother] of such person is a citizen of Bangladesh by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of Bangladesh by virtue of this section unless-

    Section 3 concerns citizenship when the 1951 came into force so has no relevance here. The same goes for what follows the word “unless” in that proviso in section 5, as that covers two special situations which pretty clearly have no application here.

    The effect of that section 5 proviso is that Shamina Begum did not become a Bangladesh citizen at birth if neither of her parents had been born in Bangladesh. But if either of them was then a Bangladesh citizen and had been born in Bangladesh, then Shamina Begum became a Bangladesh citizen at birth by section 5.

    A key question therefore is whether either of Begum’s parents was born in Bangladesh and was still a Bangladesh citizen when she was born (which was apparently 1999). Like Matthew, I don’t know the answer to that but it does seem highly likely. As a practical matter, if neither of Shamina Begum’s parents had been a Bangledesh citizen born in Bangladesh, I should expect the family or their lawyer to have that make that point explicitly and publicly over the last week – which has not happened. It would have been a strong point against the Home Secretary’s even having power to strip her of UK citizenship, as it would have left her stateless.

    Admittedly without confident knowledge of those facts, on what is publicly known it does look highly likely that Shamina Begum was a Bangladesh citizen at birth, by section 5 of the 1951 Act.

    Section 14 would apply if she had reached the age of 21, but s.14(1A) kills that point:

    14. (l) Subject to the provisions of this section if any person is a citizen of Bangladesh under the provisions of this Act, and is at the same time a citizen or national of any other country, he shall, unless he makes a declaration according to the laws of that other country renouncing his status as citizen or national thereof, cease to be a citizen of Bangladesh.

    (1A) Nothing in sub-section (1) applies to a person who has not attained twenty-one years of his age.

    So far, therefore, on the assumption that one of her parents was a Bangladesh citizen when she was born, her Bangladesh citizenship is clear, based on section 5.

    However, sections 11 and 12 do muddy the waters a little:

    11. (l) The Government may, upon, application to it in this behalf made in the prescribed manner by a parent or guardian of a minor child of a citizen of Bangladesh, register the child as a citizen of Bangladesh.

    (2) The Government may, in such circumstances as it thinks fit, register any minor as a citizen of Bangladesh.

    12. Any person registered as a citizen of Bangladesh shall be such a citizen from the date of his registration.

    Taken together, those two sections might suggest that a minor child of a Bangladesh citizen cannot be a Bangladesh citizen herself unless registered by the Bangladesh government. It is for all practical purposes crystal clear that Shamina Begum has not been registered. So that does that mean she is not a Bangladesh citizen after all?

    I strongly doubt that is the effect of sections 11 and 12. The points that lead me to such doubt are:

    (1) If registration were required to complete the citizenship otherwise conferred by the clear terms of section 5, it would have been expected that section 5 (or some other section in the Act) would make that qualification clear.
    (2) Section 11(1) does not cover only the same ground as section 5. For section 11(1) to apply, it is only necessary that a parent of the minor in question is a Bangladesh citizen at the time of the application. That is the clear effect of the wording of section 11(1).
    (3) Registration under section 11(1) would have been needed, for example, if neither of Shamina Begum’s parents had been born in Bangladesh: see the proviso to section 5 cited above.
    (4) That means that there are some minors who qualify under section 5 and some who do not.
    (5) Nothing in the statute says that you need to be registered to be a Bangladesh citizen.
    (6) For those who do fall under section 5, I see no need for registration.
    (7) If point (6) is wrong, so that the child does not get Bangladesh citizenship without registration, that would apply to children born in Bangladesh as well, who get their citizenship under section 4 (cited above).

    I do acknowledge that sections 11 and 12 give an argument that Shamina Begum has not become a Bangladeshi citizen because she has not been registered. Matthew, like any skilled barrister, could certainly get that argument on its feet in a persuasive way. But I think the argument would fail.

    In conclusion, it looks to me that stripping Shamina Begum of her UK citizenship has not left her stateless. So that point was not a bar to the Home Secretary’s order.

    Matthew, you might agree with my analysis? After all, I have picked up in detail on just one point (though an important one) in your excellent and thorough briefing.

    Leaving aside the legal stuff (which of course we can’t quite), the Home Secretary’s order stripping her of UK citizenship was a shocking and irresponsible decision from any humane or political viewpoint. This young woman and the consequences of her actions are for this country to deal with.

    By the way, Bangladeshi government denials that she is their citizen are not conclusive (or for me, convincing). I thought their initial statements were more guarded anyway, saying that she would not be allowed into Bangladesh – which is a different and rather more political stance. Probably the legal and political are getting understandably tangled up together there, as they are here. But even if they are now saying unequivocally that she is not a Bangladesh citizen, my reaction is on the Mandy Rice-Davies lines: Well they would, wouldn’t they? Not sure I entirely blame them, as I feel they are entitled to regard her as much more our responsibility than theirs.

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