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Court Of Appeal Rules That Shamima Begum Can Return To UK To Fight Her Citizenship

The Court of Appeal has ruled that Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK in order to fight the decision of removing her British citizenship. 

Shamima Begum, now 20, joined the Islamic State group in Syria 2015 alongside two other schoolgirls based in London.

After she was discovered to be at a refugee camp in Syria in 2019, the Home Office revoked her British citizenship on security grounds.

However, the Court of Appeal has argued that she has been denied a fair hearing because she couldn’t make her case from a camp in Syria.

The Home Office has since said the decision was “very disappointing” and it would “apply for permission to appeal”.

Although it has been repeatedly stated that Ms Begum would not be assisted in leaving Syria, this new judgement means that the government would have to find a way in which the 20-year-old can appear in court in London.

Her solicitor, Daniel Furner, has stated: “Ms Begum has never had a fair opportunity to give her side of the story.

“She is not afraid of facing British justice, she welcomes it. But the stripping of her citizenship without a chance to clear her name is not justice, it is the opposite.”

Liberty, the human rights organisation, has intervened in Begum’s appeal and are welcoming of this new ruling. They have always stated in her case that the right to a fair trial was “a fundamental part of our justice system and equal access to justice must apply to everyone”, with this applying to the young woman.

Katie Lines, a lawyer for Liberty, has added: “Banishing someone is the act of a government shirking its responsibilities and it is critical that cruel and irresponsible government decisions can be properly challenged and overturned.”

Begum’s legal team has argued the government’s decision to revoke her citizenship based on three grounds – firstly, it was unlawful because it has meant she is now stateless; it has exposed her to a real risk of death and is therefore inhuman and degrading; and as she is stuck in Syria, it means she can’t challenge the decision barring her from entering the UK.

Based on international law, it’s technically illegal to bar her from the UK, as Begum is not entitled to citizenship in another country.

A tribunal ruled in February that the decision to remove Begum’s citizenship was lawful as she is “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent”.

Through her mother, she has a claim to Bangladesh nationality.

Credit: Flickr

After hearing her citizenship had been stripped, she said in an interview with ABC News: “I kind of saw it coming because I did do my research just before I came out. I thought I would be a bit different because I had not done anything wrong before I came to ISIS.

“When my citizenship got rejected, I felt like my whole world fell apart right in front of me. You know, especially the way I was told. I wasn’t even told by a government official. I had to be told by journalists.”

At the age of 15 in February 2015, Begum decided to leave Bethnal Green, in east London, alongside two school friends.

She reached the IS headquarters at Raqqa after having crossed the Turkish border. Upon her arrival, she married a Dutch convert recruit and they had three children – all of whom have since passed away.

When Begum was discovered at the refugee camp by reporters, she was remorseless in her actions of joining Daesh/ISIS.

The woman was challenged by reporters about her attitude towards the terrorist group, she explained that whilst in the camp at the time, she had been made to feel threatened.

She said: “I had just given birth. I was hearing all these stories about women threatening other women, you know, folk uncovering their faces or speaking to men, or doing interviews, or anything like that. I just was afraid for my life.”

In recent reports following her controversial case, Begum has been shown wearing a loose-fitting hijab, jeans, boots and a jacket. This makes a change from the burqa that she had worn in previous interviews with journalists. Reportedly, this is a part of the camp’s deradicalisation mission.

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