United Kingdom court rules Shamima Begum can not return to fight for British citizenship

26 Février, 2021, 21:48 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • UK top court rules Shamima Begum cannot return

Shamima Begum will not be allowed to return to the United Kingdom to fight her citizenship battle, the Supreme Court has ruled.

If it's impossible for Begum's case to be fairly heard, the Supreme Court said, her appeal should have been stayed until she could effectively participate in hearings.

She is in a camp controlled by armed guards in northern Syria.

Begum, who is now detained in a Kurdish-run displacement camp in Syria, spurred an intense debate over "Islamic State brides" who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the terrorist group and whether Western governments should repatriate and prosecute them.

Friday's unanimous Supreme Court ruling overturned a decision by the Court of Appeal past year, which had held that she must be allowed to return so that she can have a fair appeal against the citizenship decision.

The government said she would not be stateless, as Begum's family has roots in Bangladesh, although the Bangladeshi government said she was not eligible for citizenship.

But the government appealed to the Supreme Court, which today ruled against Begum's return.

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. "But the stripping of her citizenship without a chance to clear her name is not justice, it is the opposite".

"If a vital public interest - in this case, the safety of the public - makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard, then the courts can not ordinarily hear it", the Supreme Court judges concluded.

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That solution was not ideal, Reed acknowledged, "but there is no flawless solution to a dilemma of the present kind".

The government's barrister Sir James Eadie QC said the home secretary believed Shamima Begum posed a real threat. "But there is no flawless solution to a dilemma of the present kind", he said.

But later that year Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed Begum would never be allowed to return to the UK.

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.

Bangladesh has said it will not allow Begum entry and that she has no rights to the country's citizenship.

Her legal team argued that this did not override the need for a fair hearing.

Begum left her home in east London at the age of 15 to travel to Syria with two school friends, and married a Daesh fighter.

Friday's judgment was criticised by human rights organisations, with Liberty describing it as a "threat to the rule of law".

Shamima Begum (left) pictured holding her baby son. In February 2018, she was discovered in a Syrian refugee camp. While two of her children had already died by the time she was found in the camp, she was heavily pregnant and soon to give birth. Her two other children also died in infancy under IS rule.

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