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Returning British Jihadists

Volume 633: debated on Thursday 21 December 2017

4. How many British jihadists (a) have been prosecuted and (b) are being considered for prosecution since returning from Syria or Iraq. (903066)

There is no specific offence related to returnees from Syria or Iraq as they can be prosecuted for a range of offences, but I can tell my hon. Friend that 97 people were charged with a terrorism-related offence in the year ending September this year, and as of last month 30 have been prosecuted and found guilty and a further 65 are awaiting prosecution.

British jihadists who go abroad to fight Her Majesty’s armed forces are traitors and should be prosecuted for treason. My understanding is that the reason why they are not is that an official declaration of war has not been made against ISIS. Given that, should we not take away the nationality of these people so that they are not allowed back into the country in the first place, and if they are allowed back in, should not all of them be prosecuted and awarded the maximum sentences?

We do prosecute wherever we can, and, of course, the appropriate place for some of these individuals to be brought to justice is the countries where their crimes are committed. On allowing them back into this country, as my hon. Friend may know, this country, as other countries, has an international law obligation to take back its own citizens. Where people have dual citizenship, it is feasible to take away their citizenship, and the Government do on occasion pursue the opportunity to do so, but we cannot leave people without a state.

The Secretary of State for Defence has suggested that all terrorists should be killed. Is it not important that the UK is seen as upholding the Geneva convention?

That certainly is important. What my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary was saying, echoing his predecessor, was that those who choose to fight with Daesh put themselves at risk, but let me make the legal position clear: every country, including this one, is entitled to defend itself from acts of terrorism, and where an attack is either present or imminent, and where it is necessary or proportionate to do so, this country can, and on occasion will, use force, including lethal force, to defend ourselves.