Saturday, 19 June, 2021


The Shamima Begum ruling is a victory for common sense

UK top court rules Shamima Begum cannot return UK court rules Shamima Begum cannot return to fight for British citizenship
Kristine Garrett | 26 February, 2021, 21:52

On Friday, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Shamima Begum can not return to the UK to appeal the revocation of her UK citizenship.

Initially, the Court of Appeal said she should be allowed to return to fight the case.

Judge Reed said Begum's appeal of the citizenship decision should be put on hold until she was in a position to play an effective part in the case without endangering the public.

Ms Begum left the United Kingdom aged 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015.

Two years ago, the then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Ms Begum of her citizenship on national security grounds.

Begum's lawyers had argued that she had a right to a fair hearing, and not being able to return to Britain to fight her case impacted on that.

The ruling overturns a lower court judgment in July that said Begum, now 21, should be allowed to come back to her home country to participate in her citizenship case.

Begum spoke to Sky News days after her third baby was born in February 2019, telling correspondent John Sparks "a lot of people should have sympathy" for her as there was no evidence she had done anything risky.

Begum is of Bangladeshi heritage but the country's foreign minister has said he will not consider granting her citizenship.

In July previous year, the Court of Appeal ruled that "the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal".

But in November, the Home Office appealed the ruling on national security grounds, saying Begum's return would "expose the public to an increased risk of terrorism".

"That is not a flawless solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible". As NPR's Matthew Schwartz reported, "The British Nationality Act of 1981 lets the government strip Britons of their citizenship if it would be "conducive to the public good" and if the person wouldn't become stateless as a result".

Shamima Begum left London for Syria in 2015.

Begum's lawyers argued that she could not properly defend herself stranded in detention in Syria, where she could not properly correspond with her legal team.

Shamima Begum, along with two other teenagers, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, boarded a flight from London's Gatwick Airport to Istanbul on 17 February 2015, before travelling to the city of Raqqa in Syria.

"Barring Shamima Begum from Britain remains a cynical ploy to make her someone else's responsibility", Maya Foa, director of the rights group Reprieve, said in a statement.

Shamima Begum (left) pictured holding her baby son. She was nine months pregnant at the time.

Her two other children also died in infancy under Daesh rule.

She has had three children since leaving Britain, but all the infants have since died, and she is now in the Roj camp, run by Syrian Kurdish authorities, where the United Nations rights experts said this month conditions were "sub-human".

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