Shamima Begum’s lawyers will ‘keep fighting’ after judges reject citizenship appeal

Shamima Begum speaking to the BBC in 2021 Pic: BBC

Shamima Begum, the so-called ‘Isis Bride’ from Tower Hamlets, has lost her second appeal against the removal of her British citizenship after she fled her home aged 15 to join the Islamic State in Syria. 

On Friday, three judges of the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed Begum’s bid to overturn the decision made in 2019 by Sajid Javid, Home Secretary at the time.  

Begum’s lawyers appealed the decision last year, which stated the Home Secretary’s decision at the time was “unlawful” as he failed to consider whether she had been groomed and trafficked. 

 Shamima Begum when she was in school aged fifteen. Pic: PA Media 

Begum was caught leaving the UK on CCTV. Pic: Met Police

After his decision, Javid told MPs that Begum’s actions “supported a terrorist organisation and in doing so they have shown they hate our country and the values we stand for.” 

In 2015 Begum, a 15-year-old schoolgirl at the time, travelled from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets to Syria.  During her time with Islamic State she had married an Isis fighter and given birth to three children, all of whom died. In February 2019, her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp. 

While the decision meant that Begum, was left effectively stateless the decision by Javid was deemed lawful as Begum could have applied for citizenship in Bangladesh due to her parents being of Bangladeshi heritage. However, Begum had never travelled there, and the Bangladeshi foreign minister said she would face the death penalty if she went there. 

A decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) upheld her lawyer’s appeal. SIAC judges said there was “credible suspicion” that Begum had been trafficked. 

This backing was not enough as the judges also said there were other factors to weigh in, including national security. 

At the end of the appeal Lady Chief Justice, Dame Sue Carr said:  “Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful, we have concluded it was not and the appeal is dismissed.” 

Begum is not the only woman facing these circumstances, with an estimated 20-25 women and families with British nationality still being held in Syrian camps. 

Outside court Begum’s lawyer Daniel Furner said: “We promise to her and to promise the government that we’re not going to stop fighting until she does get justice until she is safely back home.” The next step may lead to the Supreme Court.

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