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World

AFP
August 1, 2020

UK govt wins bid for Supreme Court to hear Shamima Begum's citizenship case

World

AFP
Sat, Aug 01, 2020
Shamima Begum, 20, will return to Britain to pursue her appeal. — AFP

LONDON: The UK government on Friday won a bid for the Supreme Court to decide if a woman stripped of her citizenship after joining the Daesh militant group in Syria can return to fight the decision.

The interior ministry successfully appealed a lower court ruling this month which would have allowed Shamima Begum, 20, to return to Britain to pursue her appeal.

Begum, 20, who is currently marooned in a Syrian refugee camp, lost the first stage of her case about the legality of the government's decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in February.

However, the tribunal also ruled she could not have a "fair and effective appeal" or play "any meaningful part" in the process, as she was living in a Syrian refugee camp.

Three senior judges at the Court of Appeal upheld that SIAC ruling on July 16, concluding Begum should be allowed to come to Britain for the legal challenge.

They ruled "fairness and justice" outweighed any national security concerns, which "could be addressed and managed if she returns".

But judge Eleanor King, one of that trio, said at a remote hearing Friday that the country's highest court should now consider a case that raised "points of law of general public importance".

Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green in east London left home to join the militant group on February 17, 2015.

She claims she married a Dutch convert soon after arriving in Daesh-held territory. She was discovered, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.

Her newborn baby died soon after she gave birth. Two of her other children also died under Daesh rule.

The then-home secretary, Sajid Javid, annulled Begum's British citizenship on national security grounds after an outcry led by right-wing media.

That prompted her to take legal action, arguing the decision was unlawful, made her stateless and exposed her to the risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.

British-born Begum is of Bangladeshi heritage. But Bangladesh's foreign minister has said he would not consider granting her citizenship.