Shamima Begum’s Return To UK Put On Hold After Government Wins Right To Fight Case
Shamima Begum’s return to the UK has been put on hold after the government won an appeal to fight the case at the Supreme Court.
Begum lost her UK citizenship after she left for Syria when she was 15 years old, but her lawyers appealed the decision and accused the government of making the 20-year-old stateless and exposing her to the risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.
In February, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) said the decision to remove Begum’s British citizenship was lawful, but the Court of Appeal granted Begum permission to launch a judicial review, saying the only way to have a ‘fair and effective appeal’ over her citizenship was to pursue it in the UK.
A summary of the decision, cited by The Independent, said:
Ms Begum should be allowed to come to the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal albeit subject to such controls as the Secretary of State deems appropriate.
Earlier this month, Begum won the legal challenge after judges ruled she had not been granted a ‘fair and effective’ appeal, and therefore she should be allowed to return to the UK for a fresh hearing. Lord Justice Flaux said national security concerns over Begum ‘could be addressed and managed’ in the UK.
Following the decision, the government said it was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the ruling, with Sajid Javid adding he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the judgement.
The Home Office announced its intention to seek permission to appeal the ruling, and it has now been granted permission to do so. The Supreme Court will consider the case.
Begum, a former London schoolgirl, lived under Isis rule for more than three years before being discovered, nine months pregnant, in a refugee camp last February.
The SIAC stated that Begum was a ‘citizen of Bangladesh by descent’, but in February 2019 Bangladesh’s ministry of foreign affairs said she was not a citizen.
Government guidance states the home secretary can deprive citizenship for the ‘public good’ if a person can apply for alternative nationality, with a document reading:
This action may only be taken if the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is able, under the law of a country outside the United Kingdom, to become a national of that country.
In practice, this power means the Secretary of State may deprive and leave a person stateless if that person is able to acquire (or reacquire) the citizenship of another country.
In the decision to allow Begum to return to the UK, Lord Justice Flaux said Begum could be prosecuted if the threshold of evidence is met, or made the subject of a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) order if not.
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