Shamima Begum's Appeal Against Citizenship Revocation Denied by Court of Appeal

February 23, 2024 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Shamima Begum, who left Britain as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State, has lost an appeal against the decision to remove her British citizenship.

Begum travelled to Syria in 2015 at the age of 15. Her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. Last year, the now 24-year-old lost a challenge against the decision at the special immigration appeals commission. Begum’s lawyers brought a bid to overturn this decision at the court of appeal, with the Home Office opposing the challenge. All three appeal judges ruled against her on Friday.

Dame Sue Carr, the head of the court of appeal, said the judges unanimously dismissed Begum’s appeal: “It could be argued that the decision in Miss Begum's case was harsh. Shamima Begum loses appeal against removal of British citizenship – video“It could also be argued that Miss Begum is the author of her own misfortune. But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view.“Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful. We have concluded it was not and the appeal is dismissed.”

Begum’s legal team put forward five grounds, arguing that Siac was wrong to reject her claim that then home secretary Sajid Javid was wrong to deprive her citizenship in 2019. But the judges ruled against her in each case, including concluding that a public sector equality duty did not apply in the event of national security. The judges also concluded that Javid had considered whether Begum was a victim of child trafficking, as her legal team had argued, and that the question of whether she posed a danger to UK national security was a judgment he was entitled to make. Nor, the judges held, was the then minister required to consider whether she would be effectively rendered stateless because there was no possibility of her returning to Bangladesh from where her parents originate.

Begum’s solicitor, Daniel Furner, said that they would seek to fight on. He said he had promised her and the government that “we are not going to stop fighting until she does get justice and until she is safely back home”. A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has found in favour of our position in this case.“Our priority remains maintaining the safety and security of the UK and we will robustly defend any decision made in doing so”.

Maya Foa, the director of Repreive, an NGO that represents British women detained in northeast Syria said: “This whole episode shames ministers who would rather bully a child victim of trafficking than acknowledge the UK’s responsibilities” and argued that the policy of depriving citizenship is “a terrible, unsustainable policy designed to score cheap political points”.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.