Government wants to appeal against Shamima Begum return ruling

Support us and go ad-free

The government is set to ask for permission to appeal against a ruling that Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the removal of her British citizenship.

Begum, now 20, was one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015. She lived under IS rule for more than three years before she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. Then-home secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship on national security grounds later that month.

SIAC rejected Begum’s appeal despite it being “not fair and effective”

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) is a specialist tribunal which hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds. In February 2020, it found Begum “cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal and that, to that extent, the appeal will not be fair and effective” if she isn’t present at it. Despite this, the SIAC still denied Begum’s appeal of the decision to remove her citizenship.

Begum’s challenge to the Home Office’s refusal to allow her entry to the UK, in order to effectively pursue her appeal, was also rejected. However, earlier in July, the Court of Appeal ruled:

the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
The judges’ ruling

Lord Justice Flaux – sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh – said:

Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the leave to enter appeals should be allowed.

The judge found that “the national security concerns about her could be addressed and managed if she returns to the United Kingdom”.

Lord Justice Flaux also said:

With due respect to SIAC, it is unthinkable that, having concluded that Ms Begum could not take any meaningful part in her appeal so that it could not be fair and effective, she should have to continue with her appeal nonetheless…

It is difficult to conceive of any case where a court or tribunal has said we cannot hold a fair trial, but we are going to go on anyway.

The government said it was “bitterly disappointed” by the ruling, while Javid said he was “deeply concerned”. The Home Office immediately announced its intention to seek permission to appeal against the ruling at the UK’s highest court. It’s an application which is due to be considered by the Court of Appeal on Friday 31 July.

Even if the Court of Appeal refuses permission, the Home Office could still renew its application for permission to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

Married at 15

Begum was 15 when she travelled to Raqqa, Syria with her school friends. She claims she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory. All three of her friends also reportedly married foreign IS fighters.

She told the Times in February 2019 that she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband but her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died. Her third child died shortly after he was born.

The hearing, which will be conducted remotely via Skype, was scheduled to begin 9.30am on Friday 31 July.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us