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Woman Who Joined IS as a Teen Loses Bid to Challenge Citizenship Removal

Court of Appeal rejects Shamima Begum’s appeal to have her case heard by the Supreme Court

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on March 27, 2024, 16:53:57

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Shamima Begum Londonborn woman lost British citizenship

Shamima Begum, the London-born woman who lost her British citizenship after joining the Islamic State group, or IS, failed in a second attempt to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.

Begum, 24, left the UK for Syria with two friends at the age of 15 in 2015. The British government revoked her citizenship in 2019, rendering her stateless.

Married to a Dutch IS member, Begum had three children, all of whom have since died while with the group. Since 2019, she has been held in Al-Roj prison camp in northern Syria for former IS members and their relatives.

Her legal team argued earlier this year that the deprivation of her citizenship had been unlawful and that she was a victim of human trafficking. They also highlighted the dire conditions in Al-Roj, stating that detainees are effectively trapped and subjected to torture and inhuman treatment.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected Begum’s appeal to have her case heard by the Supreme Court. Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr stated in an earlier ruling in February: “It could be argued that the decision in Begum’s case was harsh. It could also be argued that Begum is the author of her own misfortune.

But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view. Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful. We have concluded it was not, and the appeal is dismissed.”

Begum still has the option to directly appeal to the Supreme Court to have her case heard. However, she also failed in an appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in February, which upheld the Home Secretary's authority to strip her of citizenship regardless of the circumstances surrounding her journey to Syria.

Sir James Eadie KC, representing the Home Office, acknowledged that the former Home Secretary Sajid Javid “was well aware of the possibility” that Begum had been groomed or trafficked. However, he emphasised that the decision to revoke her citizenship was within the secretary of state's discretion.

Begum’s legal team maintains that she “has yet to receive justice in a British court” and vows to continue fighting for her rights and a safe return home.

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