Shamima Begum should have UK citizenship restored, court hears

Ms Begum was stripped of her British citizenship last year

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Shamima Begum’s British citizenship should be restored because she cannot have a “fair and effective appeal” against the decision to strip her of it, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Ms Begum, now 20, travelled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) in February 2015 and lived under its rule for more than three years.

She was stripped of her UK citizenship by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.

Ms Begum took legal action against the Home Office at the High Court and the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which deals with challenges to decisions to remove British citizenship on national security grounds.

In the latest stage of the appeal, Ms Begum’s lawyers today argued that it was unlawful for the SIAC to pursue an appeal that could not be “fair and effective”.

The SIAC has previously ruled that the decision to revoke Ms Begum’s British citizenship was lawful, but also found that her appeal will not be fair and effective because she cannot play any meaningful part in it. But the court also upheld a decision that bans Ms Begum from entering the UK in order to effectively pursue her appeal.

Tom Hickman QC told the court today: “The consequence of the appellant not being able to have a fair and effective appeal means that the Secretary of State’s decision stands indefinitely and possibly forever without there ever having been a judicial decision on the merits (of Ms Begum’s appeal).

“That, we say, piles unfairness upon unfairness and is wrong in law.”

The two-day hearing continues and it is expected that the Court of Appeal will reserve its judgment to a later date.

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