Shamima Begum launches legal action against citizenship removal

Ms Begum was 15 when she left the UK

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The London schoolgirl who travelled to the Syrian city of Raqqa to join so-called Islamic State is set to begin her legal challenge over the removal of her British citizenship.

Shamima Begum, now 20, left the UK four years ago and, after living under IS rule for more than three years, was found in a refugee camp in February.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship shortly after, which sparked the legal bid by her family against the Home Office to try to overturn the decision.

A four day preliminary hearing will launch today at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) – a specialist court that deals with challenges to remove British citizenships on the grounds of National Security.

Ms Begum, who was nine months pregnant at the time, was found by The Times and told the paper that she would “do anything required just to be able to come home”.

She said she had married Yago Riedijk, a Dutchman who had converted to Islam, just 10 days after her arrival in Raqqa and claimed he was later arrested, charged with spying and tortured.

Ms Begum left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband but her almost two-year-old daughter and three-month-old son both died. She gave birth to her second son after she was found.

Mr Javid said the child would be allowed to enter the UK, saying “children should not suffer”, but the baby boy also died shortly after he was born.

Now, Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing is expected to consider, among other things, whether depriving Ms Begum of her British citizenship left her stateless and was therefore unlawful.

When the Home Office revoked her citizenship – which is only lawful if it does not render Ms Begum stateless – it was speculated she may have also had Bangladeshi citizenship.

However, Bangladesh's minister of state for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam has denied this.

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