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Shamima Begum has lost her citizenship appeal and won't return to the UK

Tom Wood

Published 
| Last updated 

Shamima Begum has lost her citizenship appeal and won't return to the UK

Featured Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo / BBC

The removal of British citizenship from Shamima Begum was lawful, an appeals court has ruled.

The special immigration appeals commission said Begum's case had been 'dismissed on all grounds'.

Begum left the UK in 2015 for Syria, leaving to marry a fighter with Islamic State.

She and two others travelled from London to Turkey before then crossing the border into Syria where she joined up with the terrorist organisation.

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At the moment, the 23-year-old is living in a refugee camp in Roj, in the north of Syria, awaiting news on whether the decision to strip her UK citizenship was legal, a decision which could have paved the way for a return to the country.

Now, that appeal has been unsuccessful, meaning a return to Britain is unlikely.

Shamima Begum has been in a Syrian refugee camp for several years. Credit: PA
Shamima Begum has been in a Syrian refugee camp for several years. Credit: PA

During her time away from the UK, Begum has lost three children, with the most recently born – a boy called Jarrah – dying of pneumonia whilst in another refugee camp shortly after her citizenship was stripped.

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That decision was taken in early 2019 by then home secretary Sajid Javid, who said that it was ‘tough’ but ultimately stood by his choice.

Afterwards, Javid said: “My number one job is to do whatever I can to keep this country safe and I admit that sometimes when you make these decisions they are not easy decisions.

"They can be very tough decisions, so many things to weigh up about the mortality of a decision, the legality of a decision, how it can have a huge impact on someone's life.”

However, he was criticised by human rights activists, as well as other MPs from across all parties at the time.

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Labour MP David Lammy said: “Stripping individuals of citizenship sets a very dangerous precedent. We should take responsibility for our own citizens and try them for crimes in British courts, not leave them stateless.

“This is the rule of law.”

The UK is an outlier amongst allies when it comes to removing citizen status, being amongst only two countries - including Bahrain - that frequently removes that status.

Last year, a report found that 464 people had been stripped of their British citizenship since a relaxing of the rules in 2006.

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Begum and two others left the UK for Syria in 2015. Credit: PA
Begum and two others left the UK for Syria in 2015. Credit: PA

The recently passed Nationality and Borders Act has also further legislated that citizenship can be removed in certain circumstances without notice.

A book published last year by journalist Richard Kerbaj claimed that Begum and the two others who travelled with her - both killed - were brought into the country by a Syrian man.

The hearing in November heard that Begum was 'recruited, transported, transferred, harboured and received in Syria for the purposes of sexual exploitation and marriage to an adult male'.

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They further claimed that police should have investigated that after she joined with IS.

However, James Edie from the Home Office argued that whilst Begum's ordeal has been 'ghastly, unacceptable' the threat posed to national security was the paramount factor in deciding whether she should remain a British citizen.

Topics: News, Politics

Tom Wood
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