A British-born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join Daesh should not be allowed to return to Britain to challenge the government taking away her citizenship because she poses a security risk, the Supreme Court has ruled.
UK Supreme Court has ruled that the British-born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join Daesh should not be allowed to return to Britain to challenge the government taking away her citizenship because she poses a security risk.
Shamima Begum left London in 2015 when she was 15 and went to Syria with two school friends where she married a Daesh fighter.
Begum, 21, who is being held in a detention camp in Syria, was stripped of her British citizenship in 2019, but the Court of Appeal previously agreed she could only have a fair appeal of that decision if she were allowed back to Britain.
But the country's top court overturned that decision on Friday, meaning that although she can still pursue her appeal against the decision to take away her citizenship, she cannot do that in Britain.
The British government had argued that the intelligence agencies concluded those who aligned with Daesh posed a serious current risk to national security.
"If a vital public interest – in this case, the safety of the public – makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard, then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it," the Supreme Court judges concluded.
"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," they added.
"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," the judges said.
Begum's case has been the subject of a heated debate in Britain, pitting those who say she forsook her right to citizenship by travelling to join Daesh against those who argue she should not be left stateless but rather face trial in Britain.
Travels to Syria at 15
Begum left her home in east London at the age of 15 to travel to Syria with two school friends, and married a Daesh 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.
She 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.
The Court of Appeal ruled in July last year that Begum needed to come back to mount a fair and effective appeal.
But the Interior Ministry, in turn, appealed against this decision, insisting she remained "aligned" with the proscribed terrorist organisation.
A government lawyer told the Supreme Court in November her return would create "an increased risk of terrorism."
Her legal team argued that this did not override the need for a fair hearing.
Rights groups have argued human rights principles are at stake and Begum should answer for any crimes in her home country.
Begum claims she married a Dutch convert soon after arriving in Daesh-held territory. She was discovered, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.
Her newborn baby died soon after she gave birth.
Her two other children also died in infancy under Daesh rule.