Shamima Begum Can Now Return To The UK To Fight The Revoking Of Her Citizenship

The Court of Appeals ruled she could not 'fair and effectively' appeal the decision from outside the UK.

Shamima Begum

by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

Shamima Begum has won her legal battle to return home to the UK to fight the government’s decision to remove her UK citizenship. Begum, 20, was one of three teenagers who left London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group in Syria in 2015.

Begum lost her citizenship in February last year, when former home secretary Sajid Javid revoked it on security grounds after she was identified in a Syrian refugee camp. She argued that the decision made her stateless, which is illegal under international law as your citizenship can only be revoked if you are entitled to citizenship of another country.

At the time, a tribunal ruled that it was lawful because she was a ‘citizen of Bangladesh by descent’ as it was understood she had a claim to Bangladeshi nationality through her mother. Begum, who is currently still in a camp in northern Syria, hopes to challenge this ruling after saying she made a mistake travelling to Syria.

When arriving in the country, she was married off to an Islamic State fighter within 10 days and had two children – both of whom later died – by the time she was 19. In 2019 she had her third child, who she gave birth to in the al-Hawal refugee camp in Syria, and told UK news outlets she was desperate to return to the UK after losing her other children and out of fears for her new-borns' safety. Her third child also died, of a suspected lung infection, in March 2019 at the refugee camp.

At a hearing last month, her lawyer stated that Begum could not effectively challenge the decision while she was barred from returning to the UK, with the Court of Appeals accepting this argument this morning.

‘The Court concludes that Ms Begum’s appeal to the Court of Appeal should be allowed, so that she can have leave to enter the UK in order for there to be a fair and effective appeal before Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC),’ the ruling – led by Lord Justice Flaux – stated.

The question of Shamima Begum’s citizenship divided the country last year, many wanted it to stay stripped, others wanted her thrown in prison and some were more sensitive to the idea that she was groomed and then radicalised as a teenager. ‘We have to ask ourselves what conditions allow a 15-year-old to feel like it’s normal to go to a country she had never been and marry someone she’d never met?’ Tahmina Begum asked in an article for Grazia UK after suffering racist abuse when she questioned the racial undertones of conversations around Shamima’s story.

That debate will likely spark again after today’s ruling, with little yet known about when Shamima will be returning to the UK for her legal case. However, just as Tahmina’s said back then, we can’t let racism creep into this conversation.

Read More:

It's Ok To Feel Conflicted About Shamima Begum - But We Can’t Let Racism Creep Into The Conversation

'I Was An ISIS Bride Too, Shamima Begum Needs Help'

'I Don’t Want Evil To Win' - Diane Foley, Mother Of Journalist Murdered By ISIS Speaks Out On Shamima Begum

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us