Shamima Begum, 21, WON’T return to UK to fight for her British citizenship

Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship, the Supreme Court has ruled.

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

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Begum, now 21, challenged the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wanted to be allowed to return to the UK to pursue her appeal.

The Court of Appeal ruled in July ‘the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the UK to pursue her appeal’.

The Home Office challenged that decision at the Supreme Court in November, arguing allowing her to return to the UK ‘would create significant national security risks’ and expose the public to ‘an increased risk of terrorism’.

Today, the UK’s highest court ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.

Announcing the decision, Lord Reed said: ‘The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the Home Secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.’ 

Begum (pictured in 2019) was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015

Begum (pictured in 2019) was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015

Begum (pictured in 2019) was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019

Today, the UK's highest court (pictured, Lord Reed) ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship

Today, the UK's highest court (pictured, Lord Reed) ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship

Today, the UK’s highest court (pictured, Lord Reed) ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship

He said: ‘The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public.

‘If a vital public interest makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it.

‘The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.

‘That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.’

At the hearing in November, her lawyers said Begum was currently in the al-Roj camp in northern Syria, where conditions are ‘dire’.

Lord Pannick QC told the court the Syrian Democratic Forces, which control the al-Roj camp, ‘do not permit visits from lawyers nor do they permit detainees to speak to lawyers’.

He said the case against Begum was ‘no more than that she travelled to Syria and ‘aligned with IS”, and ‘it is not alleged that she fought, trained or participated in any terrorist activities, nor that she had any role within IS’.

Lord Pannick added if Begum could not return to the UK to pursue an effective appeal ‘the deprivation appeal must be allowed’, as there is ‘no other fair or just step that can be taken’.

Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Home Office, told the court: ‘If you force the Secretary of State to facilitate a return to the UK, or if you allow the substantive appeal, the effect is to create potentially very serious national security concerns.’

He said of Begum: ‘She married an IS fighter, lived in Raqqa, the capital of the self-declared caliphate, and remained with them for about four years until 2019, when she left from, in effect, the last pocket of IS territory in Baghuz.’

Sir James argued that individuals who went to Syria to join IS pose a ‘real and serious’ risk to national security ‘whatever sympathy might be generated by the age of the person when they travelled’.

Begum, and Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, then 16 and 15 respectively, boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on February 17 2015, before making their way to Raqqa in Syria.

The three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academy left London shortly after Sharmeena Begum, who is no relation, travelled to Syria in December 2014.

Begum claims she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory, with all three of her school friends also reportedly marrying foreign IS fighters.

She told The Times in February 2019 that 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 died in the al-Roj camp in March 2019, shortly after he was born.

Link hienalouca.com

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