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A civilised country would not have made Shamima Begum stateless | Letters


The case of Shamima Begum is less significant in that her appeals have failed under UK law, but rather in that UK law has been written to breach our obligations to follow the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 15.2, which states “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality” (Shamima Begum ruling shows UK wants to wash its hands of such prisoners, 23 February).

I have a strong belief in human rights being universal and the UK adhering to these principles. When Ms Begum was stripped of her birthright British nationality she was not a citizen of Bangladesh, which stated that it would not accept her request for citizenship, ergo she was made arbitrarily stateless, contrary to international law. The progress of her case through the UK courts will surely end at the human rights courts, where the UK will lose.

There are clear parallels in this government’s desire to breach international law by deporting refugees to Rwanda for xenophobic electioneering. These have been rightly resisted by the opposition and the Lords, and would also fail in their first challenge at the European court of human rights. In condemning the Rwanda scheme, the next government should also have the moral courage to reverse decisions giving rise to human rights violations such as this. If Ms Begum has broken the law, let her be tried for it after she returns to Britain, the country where she has the right to hold citizenship.
Des Senior
Aylesbeare, Devon

Of all the decisions this country has ever made, the one to deprive Shamima Begum of her citizenship surely brings the greatest shame on us all (Shamima Begum loses appeal against removal of British citizenship, 23 February). Whatever the legality of the decision, it is morally grotesque. At 15, Begum made a foolish decision, possibly under duress. She must have had little choice but to express views in support of Islamic State or risk her life and that of her children. Under such circumstances, how could the intelligence services possibly have garnered reliable information as to her true intent? The home secretary must have known that.

No civilised country makes people stateless, especially for mistakes they made as children. Imagine she was your daughter. How would you feel? We do not deprive even our worst serial killers of their citizenship.
Geoffrey JN Smart
Beeston, Norfolk

The questions raised in Zoe Williams’ article (The Shamima Begum ruling proves it: some UK citizens are less equal than others, 23 February) are those I’ve contended with since I learned about the UK’s shameful response to a brainwashed, trafficked child. Like Williams, I can’t help but wonder what role her ethnic minority background, age and gender played in the decision to make an example out of her.

I received UK citizenship only a few years ago, and I’m in the lucky position of being a dual EU citizen. But one of the things I valued highly about this country was its commitment to justice. What has happened to Shamima Begum has cheapened that. Her case calls into question all our citizenship statuses, especially those of us who aren’t British by birth. And while I cannot imagine ever being in her position, I no longer have faith that, were a misunderstanding of any sort to occur, the UK government would stand by me.
Marija Riba
London

Zoe Williams quite rightly highlights the jeopardy of those considered by the UK government to be not British enough through an accident of birth they had no control over. Putting aside the failures of the state to allow a 15-year-old to be trafficked in this way, it is an abdication of responsibility by the UK to effectively say to the international community “not our problem, she’s all yours”. Even more so if that person is truly considered a security threat, although in this instance such an excuse is laughable.
Neil Bailey
Vancouver, Canada

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