Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality: Is She Truly Stateless Now? InfoGinie 23 Feb

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Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

After the court of appeals decided against her, Shamima Begum—who fled Britain as a youngster to live under the Islamic State (IS)—was unable to succeed in her latest attempt to reverse the decision to revoke her British citizenship.

Three judges came to the unanimous conclusion that Sajid Javid, the home secretary at the time, had the authority to dismiss worries that she may have been a victim of child trafficking when she and two friends traveled covertly from east London to Syria in 2015.

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

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Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

The court further decided that Javid had acted legitimately even though it meant Begum, who is now 24 years old, was practically a stateless person because, at the time of his decision in 2019, she was supposedly the 21-year-old holder of Bangladeshi citizenship.

Her attorneys’ contention that depriving her of her citizenship violated equalities law because it disproportionately harmed British Muslims was also rejected since matters concerning national security are exempt.

Begum’s appeal was unanimously denied by the judges, according to Dame Sue Carr, the chair of the court of appeals: “It could be argued that the decision in Miss Begum’s case was harsh.

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Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

“Another way to look at it would be to say that Miss Begum created her own bad luck. However, it is not the place of this court to support or oppose any viewpoint.

“The only thing we have to do is evaluate if the deprivation judgment was illegal. We have determined that it wasn’t, and the appeal is denied.

Begum’s attorney, Daniel Furner, stated that they will try to continue the battle and made a suggestion about a potential Supreme Court appeal. Furner declared that they would “not stop fighting until she does get justice and until she is safely back home,” as he had promised Begum and the authorities.

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Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

“We are pleased that the court of appeals has found in favor of our position in this case,” a Home Office official said. Maintaining the safety and security of the UK is still our top priority, and we will vehemently defend any decisions taken in this regard.

“This whole episode shames ministers who would rather bully a child victim of trafficking than acknowledge the UK’s responsibilities,” stated Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, an NGO that defends British women detained in northeastern Syria. She further contended that the policy of depriving citizenship was “a terrible, unsustainable policy designed to score cheap political points.”

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

Begum was taken prisoner early in 2019 following the conclusion of the combat campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq. She is currently being imprisoned indefinitely in the Roj refugee camp in northeastern Syria, which is under the control of Kurdish troops.

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Not long after, Javid stripped her of her British citizenship, citing it as being “conducive to the public good.” She had previously told the BBC that the Manchester Arena terror attack was “a kind of retaliation” and that she did not regret spending four years living in the so-called caliphate in an interview with the Times.

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

However, Begum admitted her error and declared in a TV appearance two years later, in September 2021, that she would “rather die than go back to IS.” She insisted that she was not a terrorist and that she was ready to return to the UK to stand prosecution and establish her innocence. “I have nothing on the government,” she declared.

A drawn-out legal struggle has resulted, with the Supreme Court previously blocking Begum’s case once. In previous procedures, it was determined that although though she had never visited Bangladesh, her parents were originally from that country, therefore she was eligible to have Bangladeshi citizenship until the age of 21.

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

Begum’s appeal of the ruling at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) last year was unsuccessful. Begum’s attorneys filed a case in the appeals court to have this ruling overturned, but the Home Office rejected it.

Five arguments were presented by Begum’s legal team to overturn Siac’s ruling. However, Carr, Lords Justice Bean, and Whipple of the court of appeals decided against her each time.

The judges came to the conclusion that Javid had not shown “any material shortcoming” by failing to consider the probability that Ms. Begum had been trafficked specifically for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

“The possibility that she was a child victim of others who wished to exploit her for sexual or extremist reasons,” as the former home secretary put it, was known to her. However, they ruled that since it was legally permissible for him to make this “question of evaluation and judgment,” he had the right to draw the conclusion that her concerns about the possibility of a security breach were more serious.

Javid also kept her nominal Bangladeshi citizenship, thus she behaved legitimately “despite knowing that she had nowhere else to go.” The national security issue overruled Begum’s lawyer’s irrelevant claim that she was left “de facto stateless” as a result of her inability to travel to Bangladesh.

Shamima Begum Loses Battle of British Nationality

The judges stated that due to her advanced age, a comparable decision would not be able to be made today. They stated, “It is significant to note that the same decision could no longer be made, as Ms. Begum lost her Bangladeshi citizenship upon turning 21.”

The judges noted that Begum’s attorneys also made the unsuccessful claim that denying citizenship “impacts detrimentally upon the relations between members of Muslim communities and others” and that it is “disproportionately applied to British Muslims of certain ethnic minorities.”

The justices ruled that Javid was able to make the choice he did because of exemptions related to national security from the public sector equality responsibility.

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