Shamima Begum can return to the UK to fight for citizenship, judges the Court of Appeal

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Ms. Begum was 15 years old and lived in Bethnal Green, London, when she left the UK in 2015


Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the decision to withdraw British nationality, the Court of Appeal found.

Begum, now 20, was one of three schoolgirls who left London to join the Islamic State group in Syria in 2015.

His nationality was revoked by the Interior Ministry for security reasons after being found in a refugee camp in 2019.

The Court of Appeal declared that she had not been heard fairly because she could not present her arguments from the Syrian camp.

The Interior Ministry said the decision was “very disappointing” and that it “would seek leave to appeal”.

The ruling means the government must now find a way to allow the 20-year-old woman, who is currently at Camp Roj in northern Syria, to appear in London court, even though she has told several repeatedly that it would not help her to send her back from Syria.

Lord Justice Flaux – sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh – said: “Fairness and justice must, given the facts of the case, prevail over national security concerns, so that authorization to accept calls is allowed. ”

The judge also said that national security concerns about her “could be dealt with and managed if she returned to the UK”.

Former Interior Minister Sajid Javid, who made the decision to deprive Ms. Begum of his citizenship in February 2019, tweeted a statement in which he was “deeply concerned about the judgment”.

He said that regardless of the outcome of her case, if Ms. Begum came to the UK “it would be impossible to send her back afterwards”.

Begum “is not afraid to face justice”

Daniel Furner, Ms. Begum’s lawyer, said, “Ms. Begum never had a fair chance to tell her side of the story.

“She is not afraid to face British justice, she is delighted. But the withdrawal of citizenship without the possibility of erasing one’s name is not justice, it is the opposite. ”

His father Ahmed Ali told the BBC that he was “delighted” with the decision, adding that he hoped his daughter would get “justice”.

Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that even if the government “does not systematically comment on individual cases”, the decisions it made about Ms. Begum were not “taken lightly ”

He said the government “would always ensure the safety and security of the United Kingdom and do nothing to compromise that”.

Shamima Begum has yet to pack for the UK – no government aircraft is heating up the engines of a military airfield in northern Syria to take her home.

But the Court of Appeal could not have been clearer in its wording – it must be allowed to return to plead its case in the interests of a fair trial.

So if the government wants to avoid the huge embarrassment of sending a jet to collect it, it has a few weeks to convince the Supreme Court to review the case.

It is by no means an automatic process. The ministers will have to show the Supreme Court that there is a fundamental point of law that must be debated because the Court of Appeal was completely wrong.

In any event, the case is dragging on because the Court of Appeal also held that the continuing risk to Ms. Begum’s life has not yet been properly taken into account.

Ms. Begum’s legal team challenged this decision for three reasons: it was illegal because it left her stateless; this exposed him to a real risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment; and she was unable to effectively challenge the decision when she was not allowed to return to the United Kingdom.

Under international law, it is only legal to revoke a person’s citizenship if a person is entitled to the citizenship of another country.

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Media captionShamima Begum spoke to the BBC from a refugee camp in Syria in February 2019

In February, a specialized court – the Special Immigration Appeal Commission (SIAC) – ruled that the decision to withdraw Ms. Begum’s nationality was legal because she was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent”.

She is said to claim Bangladeshi nationality through her mother.

SIAC, a semi-secret tribunal hearing national security cases, also said that although concerns had been expressed about how Ms Begum might participate in the London proceedings, these difficulties did not mean that the decision of the Minister of the Interior was to be canceled.

In his ruling on Thursday, Lord Justice Flaux said: “It is difficult to imagine a case where a court or tribunal has declared that we cannot have a fair trial, but we will continue anyway. “

Responsibilities of the government to shirk

Human rights organization Liberty, which intervened in Ms. Begum’s appeal, welcomed the decision, saying that the right to a fair trial was “a fundamental part of our judicial system and that the equal access to justice should apply to all ”.

Freedom lawyer Katie Lines added: “Banning someone is the act of a government that shies away from its responsibilities and it is essential that cruel and irresponsible government decisions can be properly challenged and overturned” .

Begum left Bethnal Green, east London, at the age of 15 for Syria in February 2015, with two classmates.

Within days, she crossed the Turkish border and finally reached ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, where she married a converted Dutch recruit. They had three children, all of whom have since died.

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