Shamima Begum: Court rules against runaway IS member's citizenship appeal

Now 24-year-old Shamima Begum has lost a challenge against her removal of her British citizenship, ITV News' Geraint Vincent reports

Shamima Begum has lost a Court of Appeal challenge over the removal of her British citizenship.

Ms Begum travelled to Syria in 2015, at 15-years-old, before her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Last year, the now 24-year-old lost a challenge against the decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).

Ms Begum’s lawyers brought a bid to overturn that decision at the Court of Appeal, with the Home Office opposing the challenge.

In a ruling on Friday, three judges dismissed Ms Begum’s bid.

In response to the decision, her solicitor has promised her and the government “we are not going to stop fighting until she does get justice and until she is safely back home”.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Gareth Peirce said: “Shamima Begum is held unlawfully in indefinite arbitrary detention, which is banned by every international treaty.

“She and others, other women and children, are in what is not a refugee camp but a prison camp, and that is conceded by the United Kingdom, which has stated to the UN that it agrees that Geneva Convention articles apply.

“Unlawful as that is, there is no exit. There is no way that she can escape from unlawful imprisonment.”

ITV News' Warren Nettleford explains the background around Shamima Begum's long-running legal battles

Ms Peirce later said conditions in the al-Roj camp where Ms Begum remains had worsened.

Giving the ruling, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: “It could be argued the decision in Ms Begum’s case was harsh. It could also be argued that Ms Begum is the author of her own misfortune.

“But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view.”

At the appeal hearing in October, Samantha Knights KC told the court the Government had failed to consider the legal duties owed to Ms Begum as a potential victim of trafficking or as a result of “state failures” in her case.

However, in the 42-page public judgment, Baroness Carr said: “We are not persuaded that there was any obligation on the Secretary of State to take into account the possibility that there might be a duty to investigate the circumstances of Ms Begum’s trafficking, alternatively, to consider whether any such investigation as might be required would be enhanced by her presence in this country.”

In 2019, ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo delivered a letter to Ms Begum stating her British citizenship had been revoked. Credit: ITV News

“In our judgment, SIAC was entitled to find, as the specialist tribunal established by Parliament, that the issue of whether and to what extent Ms Begum’s travel to Syria had been voluntary was within the expertise of the intelligence agencies advising the Secretary of State.

“Ms Begum may well have been influenced and manipulated by others but still have made a calculated decision to travel to Syria and align with Isil,” Baroness Carr added.

The decision was also welcomed by Downing Street.

“I wouldn’t comment on the details of individual cases,” a No 10 spokesperson said, adding: “We’re pleased the court has found in favour of the government.

“Beyond that I would just say that our priority remains on maintaining the safety and security of the UK. We’ll always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security and we never take decisions around deprivation (of citizenship) lightly.”

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