Shamima Begum not allowed to return to UK, Supreme Court rules

James Marshall
Февраля 26, 2021

The Supreme Court eviscerated the Court of Appeal's ruling, laying out four points in which it said the lower court was outright mistaken or applied faulty reasoning.

Rights groups have argued human rights principles are at stake and Begum should answer for any crimes in her home country. Its impact is likely to be felt by others who left Western nations to join the Islamic State.

The Brussels-based Egmont Institute has estimated that nearly 1,200 Europeans were being held in camps in Syria and Iraq after the fall of the Islamic State, more than half of whom were children, with only limited efforts for repatriation.

Perhaps so, though she does have a possible claim to Bangladeshi citizenship should she wish to pursue it. As NPR's Matthew Schwartz reported, "The British Nationality Act of 1981 lets the government strip Britons of their citizenship if it would be "conducive to the public good" and if the person wouldn't become stateless as a result".

The Supreme Court's ruling that "jihadi bride" Shamima Begum does not have the right to return to the United Kingdom to fight her appeal against having British citizenship revoked will have prompted many reactions.

Human rights groups said Britain had a duty to bring back Begum and others in similar straits, and prosecute them for any crimes they may have committed, rather than leaving them overseas.

Although many people sympathized with the young woman, who was 19 at the time, others were dismayed by a number of comments she had made to British media outlets in interviews from the Syrian camp and her stated lack of regret about joining the Islamic State in the first place.

Citizenship-stripping powers targeted at naturalised citizens on disloyalty grounds had largely fallen into disuse prior to 2002, when the government introduced new powers in an attempt to revoke the citizenship of Abu Hamza, an Egypt-born cleric subsequently convicted of terrorism in the US. Now 21 years old, she has given birth to three children, all of whom have died due to illness or poor conditions. Begum bore three children after fleeing to the Islamic State, all of whom died young.

Supreme Court judges "unanimously" sided with the government and ruled that while Begum could still appeal the decision to take away her citizenship, she could not do so in Britain.

A British-born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join Daesh should not be allowed to return to Britain to challenge the government taking away her citizenship because she poses a security risk, the Supreme Court has ruled.


The Court of Appeal had been in error because it had decided to make "its own assessment of the requirements of national security" and to prefer that to the judgment of the Home Secretary, he said.

The UK Court of Appeal previous year ruled that Begum should be granted leave to enter the UK for her appeal because otherwise it would not be "a fair and effective hearing". This is "not a flawless solution as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible", he said.

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