Statement on legal aid for Shamima Begum
Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) notes the media reports stating that legal aid funding will be granted to Shamima Begum, the Bethnal Green schoolgirl who travelled to Syria to join ISIS at the age of 15.
YLAL staunchly believes that public funding should be available to all those who cannot afford to pay for their own legal advice and representation. Access to justice is a fundamental human right, and a crucial component of the rule of law in our democratic society.
In order to make access to justice effective and equal, legal aid must be available to all – subject to appropriate financial means tests – irrespective of any crimes of which they are accused. This is particularly important in cases such as this, where a British citizen has had her citizenship revoked by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.
Stripping a person of their citizenship is one of the most drastic steps that any government can take against its citizens. It is vital that a citizen has the right to challenge that decision in court, and that they should be granted public funding for legal representation where they are unable to afford it themselves.
Read our full statement below.