https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/02/18/home-office-in-the-media-blog-monday-18-february/

Home Office in the media blog: Monday 18 February

Home Office in the media

Today’s Home Office stories include returnees from Syria, how social media firms monitor their sites and extradition post-Brexit.

Syrian returnees

There is widespread coverage online, on broadcast and in the papers of a new interview Daesh bride Shamima Begum has given.

The papers report that the 19-year-old has appealed to the British public for “sympathy” for her following the birth of her son.

An interview with Sky News runs widely and the Sun reports in its splash that the “smirking” Begum admitted it would be "really hard" to rehabilitate in UK. Asked if she felt she made a mistake travelling to Syria, she said: "In a way, yes, but I don't regret it because it's changed me as a person. It's made me stronger, tougher, you know.”

The Telegraph splash focuses on what may happen if she is allowed to return to the UK with her newborn baby. The paper reports that the birth of her child over the weekend has prompted calls for him to be subject to care proceedings, as it emerged that that the Family Division of the High Court had presided over cases involving at least 150 children deemed at risk of radicalisation in the last five years.

The Times includes comments by the solicitor hired by the Bethnal Green family to help bring her back to the UK. Any attempt to deny Begum "due process" would mean she was being treated worse than Nazi war criminals, the solicitor claimed.

The Times’ splash claims another teenager who was caught as she headed to Syria to become a jihadist bride was never prosecuted despite police finding a cache of extremist material including plans of a key target for Daesh.

The girl, 15, was hauled by police from a flight as it taxied on the runway at Heathrow in December 2014, the paper reports.

Online harms

There is widespread coverage of a report from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee into social media firms.

The report – which looked into disinformation and fake news alongside the wider responsibility for online harms – has called on the Government to establish a legal duty of care on companies for the content on their sites and for a regulator to monitor firms for breaches of a new code of ethics.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme yesterday (Sunday), and vowed to look at “all possible options for penalties” for breaches of the law, when asked about the report.

Comments from Damian Collins, chairman of the committee, are carried in The Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and The Times, Mr Collins said that the “rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator.”

A Government spokesperson said:

The Government's forthcoming White Paper on Online Harms will set out a new framework for ensuring disinformation is tackled effectively, while respecting freedom of expression and promoting innovation.

This week the Culture Secretary will travel to the United States to meet with tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple to discuss many of these issues.

We welcome this report's contribution towards our work to tackle the increasing threat of disinformation and to make the UK the safest place to be online. We will respond in due course.

Germany to block post-Brexit extradition

The FT reported that Germany will stop the extradition of its citizens to the UK immediately after Brexit even if the UK leaves with a deal.

A formal notification has been sent from Berlin to Brussels which would mean Germany would reject any UK request to arrest German nationals after Brexit, even after a planned 21-month transition period, the paper reports.

A German official is quoted as saying the decision was a “sign of things to come” on obstacles to police and crime co-operation.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Our first aim is - and must be - to ensure that we maintain the operational capabilities which keep UK and EU citizens safe.

We believe it is in the interests of both the UK and EU member states that swift and effective extradition arrangements provided for by the European Arrest Warrant, are preserved during the implementation period.