Monday, May 23

Shamima Begum: The Supreme Court will decide next week on the return to the UK | Shamima begum

The high court will announce next week whether Shamima Begum, who left London when she was a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State in 2015, should be able to return to the UK to challenge the removal of her British citizenship.

Begum was 15 when he fled to Syria to live under the rule of Isis for more than three years.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found nine months pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. She had already lost two children and the third died shortly after birth.

Begum, now 21, is challenging the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wants to be allowed to return to the UK to continue her appeal.

In July last year, the appeals court ruled that “the only way you can have a fair and effective appeal is to be allowed to enter the UK to continue your appeal.”

The Home Office challenged that decision in high court in November, arguing that allowing him to return to the UK “would create significant national security risks” and expose the public to “an increased risk of terrorism.”

The UK’s highest court will issue a ruling next Friday on whether Begum should be granted permission to enter the UK to make her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.

The high court will also decide whether, if Begum is denied permission to enter the UK, his appeal against the removal of his British citizenship should be allowed.

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At the November hearing, his lawyers said that Begum was in al-Roj camp in northern Syria, where conditions are “dire”.

Lord Pannick QC told the court that the Syrian Democratic Forces, which control the al-Roj camp, “do not allow visits by lawyers or allow detainees to speak with lawyers.”

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

Pannick added that if Begum could not return to the UK to make an effective appeal, “the deprivation appeal should be allowed” as “there is no other fair step that can be taken.”

Excerpts from MI5’s assessments of the dangers posed by the return of those who joined Isis were read at the hearing.

Sir James Eadie QC of the Home Office told the court that calculated assessments assumed that Begum posed a serious threat “justifying the removal of his British citizenship and … the placing of serious impediments on the path of his return to the Kingdom. United”.

He added: “She is considered to pose a real and current threat to national security. She is aligned with [Isis]. During the four years that he has spent in the territory of the Islamic State, he suffered radicalization and ‘desensitization to violence.’

The court was also told that Home Office officials stated that “public sentiment is overwhelmingly hostile” towards Begum and argued that removing her British citizenship would not affect community relations.

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

The three Bethnal Green Academy students left London shortly after Sharmeena Begum, who is not related, traveled to Syria in December 2014.

Begum claims that she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in Isis territory, and her three friends from school reportedly also married foreign Isis fighters.

She told the Times in February 2019 that she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband, but that her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had since died.

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