UK 'will not block death penalty' for ISIS Beatles

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the UK would not oppose the use of the death penalty if two alleged Islamic state members were extradited to the US.

In a letter leaked to the Telegraph, Javid said that he would seek no assurances about the sentences of Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, both from west London, who were captured in Syria in January.

The men, dubbed the Beatles, have previously complained that they would not get a fair trial because the UK government had stripped them of their British citizenship.

The leak has been labelled ‘extraordinary’, with Shami Chakrabarti, Labour's shadow attorney general, claiming that Javid had ‘secretly and unilaterally abandoned Britain's opposition to the death penalty’ and appeared to be encouraging ‘this grave human rights abuse’.

Lord Carlile, former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the BBC: "We do not extradite people to countries where there is a death penalty unless there is an assurance the death penalty will not be carried out. This a unilateral change of policy without any consultation and I would be amazed if this had been approved explicitly by the Prime Minister."

Amnesty International also criticised Javid’s letter. Allan Hogarth, the head of advocacy and programmes at the human rights group, said: “This is a deeply worrying development. The home secretary must unequivocally insist that Britain’s longstanding position on the death penalty has not changed and seek cast-iron assurances from the US that it will not be used. A failure to seek assurances on this case seriously jeopardises the UK’s position as a strong advocate for the abolition of the death penalty and its work encouraging others to abolish the cruel, inhuman and degrading practice.”

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