Britain’s highest court today, Friday, rejected a bid by a woman who was stripped of her UK citizenship for joining the Islamic State group to return to challenge the decision.
Five judges at the Supreme Court gave a unanimous decision in the case of Shamima Begum, whose legal battles have come to be seen as a test of how countries treat nationals who joined the jihadists.
“Ms. Begum’s appeal against the leave to enter decision is dismissed,” the head of the Supreme Court, judge Robert Reed, said in a written judgment.
The judges said the right to a fair hearing did not override other considerations such as the safety of the public, adding that- “The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation appeal to be stayed until Ms. Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.”
The judges stated that- “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.”
Now 21, Begum left her home in east London at the age of 15 to travel to Syria with two school friends, and married an IS fighter.
In 2019 she told The Times newspaper that she did not regret travelling to Syria and had not been “fazed” by seeing a severed head dumped in a bin.
Britain revoked her citizenship in 2019 on national security grounds amid an outcry led by right-wing newspapers.
Begum is being held in a camp in poor conditions, while her husband is reportedly in jail in Syria, and her three children have died. She appealed to be allowed back into the UK so that she can legally challenge her loss of citizenship and argued that the decision was unlawful as it has made her stateless and exposed her to the risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.
Begum is of Bangladeshi heritage but the country’s foreign minister has said he will not consider granting her citizenship.