Shamima Begum’s appeal against the decision to strip her of her British citizenship, despite a “credible” claim that she was trafficked, was unsuccessful.
Her appeal had been completely rejected, Mr. Justice Jay informed the court that was handling her case in a semi-secret setting.
The decision means that the 23-year-old is still confined to a camp in northern Syria and is unable to leave the UK.
Her legal team stated that the verdict will be appealed and that the matter was “nowhere near over.”
Ms. Begum traveled to join the so-called Islamic State organization in 2015 at the age of 15.
She later got married to a fighter from the group and had three children, all of whom have passed away.
She was held as an IS supporter in a camp in 2019 after the then-home secretary Sajid Javid revoked her of her British passport, preventing her from returning home.
Even though Ms. Begum’s attorneys made compelling claims that she was a victim, the Extraordinary Immigration Appeals Commission determined that the decision, made after ministers received national security advice about her threat to the UK, had been lawful.
Tale of Shamima Begum
Watch the movie on BBC iPlayer while listening to the investigative podcast The Shamima Begum Story on BBC Sounds.
The home secretary failed to consider whether Ms. Begum had been a victim of child trafficking, according to Ms. Begum’s attorneys, who claimed she had been groomed and duped into joining the fighters along with schoolmates. This was claimed during the appeal hearing last November.
For the first time, judges had to decide if the state’s responsibilities to prevent child abuse and trafficking should have any bearing on those choices.
The case’s complexity had caused the panel of three “much concern and difficulty,” according to Mr. Justice Jay.
In his summary, he stated that “the commission found that there was a credible suspicion that Ms Begum had been trafficked to Syria.”
“She was brought to Syria in order to be sexually exploited, but she was too young to be able to give her consent.
The commission came to the conclusion that several governmental bodies had possibly broken the law by allowing Ms. Begum to leave the country in the manner that she did and subsequently travel into Syria via Turkey.
Despite these worries, the judge ruled that even if Ms. Begum had been a victim of trafficking, the home secretary’s legal obligation to decide to deprive her of her British citizenship based on national security did not change.
In his summary, the judge stated that there was “some substance in the notion that those advising the secretary of state regard this as a black and white matter, when many would claim that there are shades of grey.”
I’m ashamed of myself, Shamima Begum says in a video (speaking in June 2022)
Even though there were concerns about how the issue had been handled, the commission came to the conclusion that the home secretary had nonetheless acted within his authority.
According to the judge, “reasonable people with knowledge of all the pertinent evidence will differ if asked to evaluate all the circumstances of Ms. Begum’s case, particularly in relation to the issue of the extent of her travel to Syria being voluntary and the weight to be given to that factor in the context of all others.”
“The threat she represented to the national security of the United Kingdom in February 2019 and how that threat should be weighed against all mitigating factors will also divide sensible individuals.
Yet, according to our constitutional arrangement, the secretary of state, not the commission, is responsible for evaluating these delicate matters.
This isn’t the first time Ms. Begum’s attorneys have lost a legal argument. The same panel denied her team’s claim that when her citizenship was revoked, she became “de facto stateless.”
It agreed with the Home Office’s stance that it was not legally required to permit her to maintain her UK rights because she was technically eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.
The Supreme Court ruled in February 2021 that she could not, for security reasons, go back to the UK to continue her case.
Gareth Pierce and Daniel Furner, Ms. Begum’s attorneys, urged Suella Braverman, the current home secretary, to reexamine the case “in light of the commission’s grave findings” in a statement.
They claimed the ruling puts their client “in unlawful, arbitrary and indefinite detention without trial in a Syrian camp” and removes protections for British child trafficking victims in circumstances where national security is at stake.
Without going into any detail about any prospective appeal, her legal team only stated that “every available route to dispute this decision would be swiftly pursued.”
The government’s priority continues to be safeguarding the safety and security of the UK, and we will vehemently defend any decision made in that regard, according to a representative for the Home Office, which expressed “pleasure” with the verdict.
Mr. Javid agreed and praised the decision. According to him, ministers need to have the authority to “block anyone from entering our nation who is determined to pose a threat to it.”
Human rights organizations and activists have criticized the decision and the government’s stance, arguing that Ms. Begum was a victim of child exploitation.
The director of refugee and migrant rights for Amnesty International UK, Steve Valdez-Symonds, stated: “The home secretary shouldn’t be in the business of exiling British residents.”
Conservative MP David Davis called the situation a “shameful abandonment of responsibility and must be addressed” after frequently challenging the government on civil liberties problems.