Shamima Begum: Appeal Court to rule on ISIS schoolgirl's British citizenship

16 July 2020, 08:16

The court of appeal is due to make a ruling later today
The court of appeal is due to make a ruling later today. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Shamima Begum will find out later today whether her British citizenship could be restored.

The 20-year-old, who ran away from her home in London aged 15 to join Islamic State in Syria (IS), lost the first hurdle to regain citizenship in February - but the Court of Appeal is due make its own ruling this morning.

A nine-months-pregnant Ms Begum was found living in a refugee camp in Syria last year, having lived for three years under IS rule.

READ THE LATEST: Shamima Begum allowed to come back to UK for citizenship fight

She claimed she had married Dutch IS fighter Yago Riedijk just 10 days after arriving in Syria with her school friends Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, then 16 and 15 respectively, and had two children - both of whom had died.

The third child died shortly after being born.

The three schoolgirls left London in 2015 to join Islamic State
The three schoolgirls left London in 2015 to join Islamic State. Picture: PA

A short while after Ms Begum's appearance in the refugee camp, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship, citing national security reasons.

She then took legal action against the Home Office as a result, arguing the decision had left her stateless and at risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment, making it unlawful.

READ MORE: Appeal Court hears Shamima Begum should be given British citizenship back

READ MORE: Shamima Begum loses first stage of citizenship challenge

But the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) - a specialist tribunal - ruled that it was, in fact, a lawful decision because Ms Begum was "a citizen of Bangladesh by descent".

It also found that she "cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal" which could mean the appeal would "not be fair and effective" - although "it does not follow that her appeal succeeds".

Ms Begum is still residing in the al-Roj camp in Syria and has had her plea to return to the UK to pursue the appeal rejected.

Her barrister, Tom Hickman QC, said the decisions had revoked "the real possibility that she could return to the UK" and that it could expose her to "the real risk of removal to Bangladesh or Iraq".

This, he added, could leave her facing "extra-judicial killing at the hands of the police" or "a wholly unfair and predetermined 'trial' and an immediate sentence of death."

Revoking her citizenship also left her in a position where her appeal "cannot be pursued in a manner that satisfies even minimum requirements of fair procedure," he said.

The remote ruling will be given at 10.30am on Thursday morning by Lord Justice Flaux, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh.

Mr Hickman has also stressed that Ms Begum's age should be taken into account as she was teenager who "had not even taken her GCSE exams" when she ran away.

But Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Home Office, said the reasoning for her not being able to take full involvement in the appeal procedure was "a result of her decision to leave the UK, travel to Syria against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice and align with ISIL."

He added: "This led to her being held in conditions akin to detention in a foreign state at the hands of a third party, the Syrian Defence Force.

"It was not the result of any action by the secretary of state and the deprivation decision did not have any causative impact on the appellant in this respect."