Over the next two days the Supreme Court will hear the Home Secretary’s appeal against the decision by the Court of Appeal to grant Shamima Begum leave to enter the UK in order to challenge to decision to deprive her of UK Citizenship.
As reported, she left the UK as a schoolgirl aged 15 to join Islamic State in Syria, where she married a Dutch fighter and gave birth to three children, none of whom survived. She was found in a Syrian refugee camp by journalists. She challenged the decision to withdraw her British Citizenship on various grounds, including that it left her stateless. SIAC found in favour of the Home Secretary on the preliminary issues including that she would not be left stateless, given her residual Bangladeshi nationality. In the course of its findings, SIAC concluded that Ms Begum could not have a fair and effective appeal against the Home Secretary’s decision, given her position in detention in a camp in northern Syria run by the Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), but held that this did not require her appeal to be allowed. Her challenge to the refusal of her application for leave to return to the UK to pursue the appeal was also dismissed. The Court of Appeal found that the lack of access to a fair appeal process from her current location overseas did not require her appeal against the withdrawal of citizenship to be allowed, but it did require her to be given leave to enter the UK.
The Supreme Court will consider whether she should be granted leave to enter the UK to appeal against the withdrawal of her British Citizenship, whether judicial review principles applied to her human rights claims and, if she is not able to return to the UK to pursue her appeal, if her appeal should be allowed.
Angus McCullough QC acts as Special Advocate for Shahmima Begum, appearing with Adam Straw of Doughty Street Chambers. There will be no closed hearing before the Supreme Court, but the Special Advocates have lodged an open submission.
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