News 26 February 2021

Supreme Court Rules Shamima Begum Cannot Return To UK To Fight For Citizenship

26 February 2021

Shamima Begum cannot return to the UK to fight her citizenship case, the Supreme Court has ruled.

At 15-years-old, Ms Begum and two other schoolgirls from east London travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

After being found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019 when she was nine months pregnant, Ms Begum’s British citizenship was revoked on national security ground by the Home Office.

Ms Begum then challenged the Home Office’s decision to remove her citizenship.

In July, the Court of Appeal initially said that she should be allowed to return to the UK, ruling that “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”.

This decision was challenged by the Home Office in November, who claimed that Begum’s return to the UK “would create significant national security risks” and expose the public to “an increased risk of terrorism”.

Today (February 26), the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Ms Begum – now 21-years-old – should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.

Announcing the decision, Lord Reed said: “The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the Home Secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.”

Lord Reed added: “The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public.

“If a vital public interest makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it.

“The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.

“That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible.

“But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.”