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Shamima Begum loses appeal against removal of citizenship

Related Member(s):
Jonathan Glasson QC, Jessica Jones
Related Practice Area(s):
Immigration, Asylum and Free Movement

Shamima Begum, one of three east London school girls who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS), has lost the first stage of the legal fight over the revocation of her British citizenship.

Ms Begum who is now 20, left the UK in February 2015 alongside two other schoolgirls from London and lived under IS rule for more than three years. In February 2019, she was discovered nine months pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp and later that month, former home secretary Sajid Javid made the decision to revoke her British citizenship. Ms Begum’s lawyers launched legal action against the Home Office at the High Court and Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).

SIAC, chaired by Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing, ruled against Ms Begum on all three preliminary issues.  SIAC concluded that the revocation of Ms Begum’s British citizenship did not render her stateless. It said the condition in the Al Roj camp would  breach Articles 3 ECHR (the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) but the Secretary of State’s decision was in accordance with the Home Office policy because it was not a foreseeable and direct consequence of the revocation decision that Ms Begum would be exposed to a real risk of ill treatment.  Finally, SIAC found that although Ms Begum could not meaningfully participate in her appeal from Syria that did not mean her appeal should succeed.  The High Court rejected her challenge for the reasons set out by SIAC.

Jonathan Glasson QC was instructed by the Home Secretary and Jessica Jones appeared on behalf of Ms Begum, instructed by Birnberg Peirce.