JUST IN: Shamima Begum, the Bethnal Green School girl who ran off to join Islamic State loses first stage of her appeal against having her British citizenship stripped.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which hears national security cases, said that the 20-year-old could be stripped of her nationality because she had not been left stateless. SIAC said she could turn instead to Bangladesh for citizenship.
A judgment by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) found against Begum, now 20, on three grounds, including that she had not been improperly deprived of her citizenship.
The ruling by Mrs. Justice Elisabeth Laing, Mr. Doron Blum and Mr. Roger Golland accepted that Begum “cannot have an effective appeal on her current circumstances but it does not follow that her appeal succeeds”.
Siac said the decision to strip Begum of her citizenship did not make her stateless. However, it said, she could nonetheless continue with her substantive appeal.
Begum’s lawyers alleged she has been left stateless and unable to mount a “fair and effective” legal challenge and was at risk of “death, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
If forced to go to Bangladesh, her parents’ country of origin, she could be hanged, the court was told at a partially secret hearing last November.
Begum, who was born in the UK, grew up in east London. The court heard there was no evidence she had ever visited Bangladesh or applied for citizenship there.
A Home Office spokesperson said the government welcomed the judgment on the preliminary issues. “It would be inappropriate to comment further whilst legal proceedings are ongoing.”
In February 2015, aged 15, Begum left her home with two other teenagers, Kadiza Sultana, then 16, and Amira Abase, then 15, and travelled to Syria to join Islamic State.
She was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. The then home secretary, Sajid Javid, stripped her of her British citizenship later that month.
Begum claims she married the Dutch Islamic State fighter Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in Isis territory, with her school friends also reportedly marrying foreign fighters in the terrorist group.