Shamima Begum Has Lost The First Stage Of Her Appeal Over British Citizenship

Shamima Begum has lost the first stage of her appeal against the government over regaining her British citizenship. 

Ms Begum, now 20-years-old, left London in 2015 at the age of 15, in the pursuit of joining the Islamic State. In February 2019, she was discovered at a Syrian refugee camp.

Later that month, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her UK citizenship.

It was ruled that Ms Begum could be stripped of her nationality because she hadn’t been left stateless.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a semi-secret court which hears national security cases, said that she should turn to Bangladesh for citizenship.

Under international law, if it would mean being left stateless, it is illegal to strip someone of their citizenship.

Through her mother, Ms Begum is understood to have a claim to Bangladesh nationality.

The commission rejected Ms Begum’s case which argued she had been left stateless, as by descent she was a citizen of Bangladesh.

However, in February 2019, Bangladesh’s ministry of foreign affairs said that Ms Begum was not a Bangladesh citizen and it was of “no question” whether or not she could reside in the country.

Credit: Flickr

At this moment in time, it is believed that Ms Begum is a resident at Camp Roj, which is a refugee camp in northern Syria. It was also ruled by the commission that Mr Javid had not exposed Ms Begum to human rights abuse.

Judge Doron Blum announced the decision at the tribunal. As although there are concerns for how Ms Begum – in Syria – could take part in the proceedings which are based in London, these difficulties did not mean that the home secretary’s decision could be overturned.

“[Ms Begum] left the UK apparently of her own freewill some years before the decision – and she was not outside the UK as a result of the decision.”

The case is now moving on to whether or not the government has the legitimate national security grounds to bar her from returning to the UK. It is a possibility that Ms Begum’s legal team will seek to appeal this outcome of this preliminary ruling.

A hearing took place in October in which Ms Begum’s lawyers said she had only professed sympathy for the Islamic State group in media interviews because she wanted to protect herself and her newborn son, who later died in the refugee camp.

In February 2015, Ms Begum left Bethnal Green, in east London, with two school friends for a new life in Syria.

Within days, the group reached the Turkish border and then eventually reached the IS headquarters based at Raqqa. She then married a Dutch convert recruit with who she had three children – all of whom have since died.

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