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07-02-2020

Shamima Begum loses first stage of appeal over citizenship

Shamima Begum

Shamima Begum has lost the first stage of her appeal against the government's decision to remove her UK citizenship.

Ms Begum, now 20, left London in 2015, aged 15, to join Islamic State. She was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her UK citizenship later that month.

A tribunal ruled that Ms Begum could be stripped of her nationality because she had not been left stateless.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which hears national security cases, said she could turn instead to Bangladesh for citizenship.

Under international law, it is illegal to deprive nationals of citizenship if to do so would leave them stateless.

Ms Begum is understood to have a claim to Bangladeshi nationality through her mother.

However, in February 2019, Bangladesh's ministry of foreign affairs said Ms Begum was not a Bangladeshi citizen and there was "no question" of her being allowed into the country.

She currently remains in a refugee camp in northern Syria. The commission also ruled that Mr Javid had not exposed Ms Begum to human rights abuses by leaving her in the camp.

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The case will now move on to consider whether the government had legitimate national security grounds to bar her from coming back to the UK - although Ms Begum's legal team may seek to appeal the outcome of this preliminary ruling.

Ms Begum left Bethnal Green, in east London, for Syria in February 2015, with two friends.

Within days she had crossed the Turkish border and eventually reached the IS headquarters at Raqqa, where she married a Dutch convert recruit. They had three children - all of whom have since died.

At a preliminary hearing in October, Ms Begum's lawyers said she had only professed sympathy for the Islamic State group in media interviews to protect herself and her newborn son, who later died in the refugee camp.

https://bbc.in/2SuSTAO

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