ISIS Bride, UK Supreme Court Gives Verdict

A judgement that not only denies Shamima Begum of her citizen rights but will also impact other young British nationals who fought on the side of ISIS or married militias outside the country.

The UK Supreme Court in a landmark decision ruled Friday that “ISIS bride” Shamima Begum cannot return to the United Kingdom to appeal the revocation of her UK citizenship.

Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Robert Reed, said that the UK Court of Appeal errorneously ruled last year when it ordered that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to carry out her appeal.

Begum was 15 years old when in 2015 she left the UK with two school friends to join ISIS in Syria. She was stripped of her British citizenship by then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid on February 19, 2019 upon being discovered in a northern Syrian refugee camp.

Activists believe she took the decision as a minor under peer influence and that any decision to permanently strip her of her UK citizenship will make her stateless. However, the UK Supreme Court was much more concerned about the security considerations and hence ruled in favor of national security.

According to Reed, the Court of Appeal was mistaken in ruling that Begum’s right to a fair hearing should prevail over other competing rights.

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

The UK Court of Appeal last year ruled that Begum should be granted leave to enter the UK for her appeal because otherwise it would not be “a fair and effective hearing.”

Reed added that the Court of Appeal did not give the Home Secretary’s assessment of the requirements to enter the UK “the respect it deserved,” adding that the court made their “own assessment of the requirements” despite an “absence of relevant evidence.”

The Supreme Court also ruled that Begum’s appeal against the revocation of her UK citizenship should be “postponed” until she can participate without “public safety being compromised.”

In his judgment Reed said Begum is currently being held at a camp in Syria. This is “not a perfect solution as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible,” he said.

“There is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind,” Reed added.

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