Shamima Begum would face capital punishment in Bangladesh, says foreign minister

Left to right: Shamima Begum and Bangladesh's foreign minister, Abdul Momen.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister has said that Shamima Begum could face the death penalty for involvement in terrorism if she goes to the country.

However, her family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said the possibilities of her being sent to Bangladesh were “vanishingly remote”.

The UK home secretary, Sajid Javid, stripped Ms Begum’s British citizenship in February after she was located at a refugee camp in Syria.

She left Britain for Syria to live under ISIS in 2015.

Under international law, it is illegal to revoke someone’s citizenship if it renders them without a state and nationality. It was wrongly believed that Ms Begum was eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship through her parents, but Bangladeshi officials have rejected this, leaving her currently stateless.

Speaking to ITV, Bangladeshi foreign minister, Abdul Momen, said: “We have nothing to do with Shamima Begum. She is not a Bangladeshi citizen. She never applied for Bangladeshi citizenship. She was born in England and her mother is British.

“If anyone is found to be involved with terrorism, we have a simple rule: there will be capital punishment. And nothing else. She would be put in prison and immediately the rule is she should be hanged.”

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The family’s lawyer, Mr Akunjee said Mr Momen had confirmed “what is obvious to all” in that Ms Begum was born and raised in Britain and was “in no way Bangladesh’s problem”.

Mr Akunjee told The Guardian: “What Sajid Javid did in stripping Shamima Begum of her citizenship is human flytipping – taking our problems and illegally dumping them on our innocent neighbours.

“The home secretary is open at any time to change his mind and reverse his decision regarding stripping Shamima’s citizenship. This would have the added benefit of saving the British taxpayer all the costs of having a long trial, especially where it is fairly clear what the outcome is going to be.

“Sajid Javid would have been advised about Bangladeshi law and the existence of the death penalty there, but what can we expect from him when he was happy to allow a baby to die as a direct consequence of his actions.”

Ms Begum’s baby son Jarrah died from pneumonia in a Syrian refugee camp less than three weeks after birth.

The east London teen claimed she was brainwashed by ISIS and said she did not agree with everything the group had done. Ms Begum has not admitted t committing any acts of terrorism.

Mr Javid defended his decision to revoke Ms Begum’s British citizenship and said the government could not help UK nationals in Syria as there was no consular presence there. Ms Begum’s family have started legal proceedings to challenge the home secretary’s decision.

The UK government said it will not comment on individual cases and that decisions to strip individuals of their citizenship are based on “all available evidence” and are “not taken lightly”.

A person’s citizenship can be revoked under the 1981 British Nationality Act if the home secretary is satisfied it would be “conducive to the public good” and that the individual would not be made stateless.

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