Shamima Begum Loses First Stage Of Appeal Over Removal Of Citizenship

By Aaron Walawalkar, News and Digital Editor 7 Feb 2020
Immigration, Justice
Shamima Begun. Credit: YouTube/BBC

Shamima Begum – one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join IS – has lost the first stage of her human rights appeal against the government’s decision to revoke her British citizenship.

Begum, now 20, left her home in Bethnal Green in 2015 to marry Dutch Islamic State fighter Yago Riedijk.

She was found, heavily pregnant, by a Times journalist in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her British Citizenship later that month.

Begum appealed the decision, arguing that she had been made stateless as a result the government depriving her of her citizenship.

This is illegal under international law.

But a tribunal ruled on Friday (7 February) that she could turn to Bangladesh, her parents country of origin, for citizenship.

The court heard that there is no evidence Begum has ever visited or applied for citizenship in Bangladesh, the Guardian reported.

Begum’s lawyers also said that she could be hanged if forced to go to the country.

This could constitute a breach of Convention of the Human Rights, which protects the right to life and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.

Last year, Bangladesh’s ministry of foreign affairs insisted it would not allow Begum into the country.

Barrister Tom Hickman QC argued that removal of Begum’s citizenship “had the effect” of preventing her from returning to the UK, ITV reports.

This meant she “cannot have a fair and effective appeal” as she is unable to speak confidentially with her lawyers or to give evidence in support of her appeal.


Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing, who led the tribunal, ruled that the revocation of Begum’s British citizenship did not render her stateless.

Judge Doron Blum added that the move did not breach the Home Office’s “extraterritorial human rights policy by exposing Ms Begum to a real risk of death or inhuman or degrading treatment”.

He said that, while Begum “cannot have an effective appeal in her current circumstances”, it “does not follow that her appeal succeeds” on that ground.

The tribunal will now move on to consider wether the government had legitimate national security grounds to bar her from coming back to the UK.

Begum’s legal team may seek to appeal the outcome of this preliminary ruling.