16 Jul Shamima Begum: Court rules IS bride can return to UK to challenge removal of British citizenship | UK News
Shamima Begum, one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join so-called Islamic State, should be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the removal of her British citizenship, senior judges have ruled.
The 20-year-old left the UK in February 2015 and lived under IS rule for more than three years before she was found, nine months pregnant, in a refugee camp in February last year.
The then home secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship on national security grounds later than month.
In an interview with Sky News she claimed she was “just a housewife” during her four years in IS’ self-declared caliphate, where she married a young Dutch fighter called Yago Riedijk three weeks after arriving.
She said she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband but her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died.
Her third child, called Jarrah, died shortly after he was born last year.
Ms Begum took legal action against the Home Office, claiming the government’s decision was unlawful because it rendered her stateless and exposed her to a real risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment
In February, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) – a specialist tribunal which hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds – ruled the decision was lawful as Ms Begum was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent” at the time of the decision.
The tribunal also found that she “cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal and that, to that extent, the appeal will not be fair and effective”, but ruled that “it does not follow that her appeal succeeds”.
Ms Begum’s challenge to the Home Office’s decision to refuse to allow her to enter the UK to effectively pursue her appeal was also rejected.
The Court of Appeal has now 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”.
Lord Justice Flaux – sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh – said: “Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the leave to enter appeals should be allowed.”
The judge found that “the national security concerns about her could be addressed and managed if she returns to the United Kingdom”.
In its ruling, the court said: “If the Security Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions consider that the evidence and public interest tests for a prosecution for terrorist offences are met, she could be arrested and charged upon her arrival in the United Kingdom and remanded in custody pending trial.”
Sky’s defence and security correspondent Alistair Bunkall said the decision “really bolsters her case, being able to return to the UK, albeit inevitably under very strict controls”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This is a very disappointing decision by the Court. We will now apply for permission to appeal this judgment, and to stay its effects pending any onward appeal.
“The government’s top priority remains maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe.”