Shamima Begum and the Jamaica 50 prove it – the Britishness of black and Asian people is conditional


Moves from the government to revoke citizenship and deport people who’ve spent their lives here send a message that for people of colour, the UK is not and never will be their home

Nath Gbikpi

20th February 2020


Shamima Begum was born and bred in the UK. This is the country where she was groomed and radicalised before joining Isis in Syria. Many of the group which has come to be known as the “Jamaica 50” arrived in the UK as minors (as young as two, five, seven and 11 years old). This is the country where they committed offences – sometimes minor – and were imprisoned.

Their cases are, of course, very different. Begum was a British citizen, whose citizenship was revoked while she was abroad. The Jamaica 50 were Jamaican nationals, who were detained in the UK and scheduled for deportation (thanks to legal action, only 17 were deported). In both cases, however, the British government’s response was the same – “we don’t want you here”.

So far, the law has been on the British government’s side. Begum could be stripped of her citizenship because, according to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, she is also a Bangladeshi citizen, and therefore not rendered stateless. The Jamaica 50 can be deported relying on the immigration rules, which, broadly speaking, mean that anyone convicted of an offence of more than 12 months is liable for deportation. Something being legally correct, however, does not make it morally right.

Before externalising responsibility for those individuals, the government should look at the background of the offences and the offenders. Begum is a British citizen, who was groomed and radicalised aged 15, in the UK. Some of the Jamaica 50 stories are also worth noting. Tayjay arrived in the UK aged five. He was groomed in county lines in the UK, and, aged 19, was sentenced to a drug-related offence for which he was sentenced for 15 months, seven of which he spent in prison. He was released five years ago and has not reoffended since. Reshawn Davis was convicted for robbery 10 years ago under the “joint enterprise” rule, since deemed unlawful, and spent two months in prison. He arrived in the UK aged 11. Others scheduled to be deported grew up in care.

read more here:   and video report.

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