LONDONER Shamima Begum, who went to Syria aged 15 to join Daesh (the Islamic State group) should not be allowed to return to the country as she poses a security risk, the UK government told the Supreme Court on Monday(23).
The government has asked the country’s highest court to decide if Begum, 21, can come back to pursue an in-person appeal of the 2019 decision to strip her of British citizenship.
The Court of Appeal ruled in her favour in July, but the government immediately appealed, insisting she remains “aligned” with Daesh.
Challenging that verdict, James Eadie, the lawyer for the British government, told the Supreme Court that intelligence agencies concluded those who aligned with Islamic State posed a serious risk to national security.
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“The assessment was that she presented a current threat, justifying the removal of her British citizenship and thereby placing serious practical and legal impediments on national security grounds in the way of her return to the UK,” Eadie said.
“The exposure of the public to an increased risk of terrorism is not justifiable or appropriate in this case on fairness grounds. What we submit is that those who travelled (to Syria)… pose a clear and present threat specifically on return.”
Lawyer David Pannick, representing her at the two-day Supreme Court hearing, said Britons have a “fair and effective appeal right unless parliament has clearly indicated to the contrary”.
“Begum wants to appeal, she wants to exercise a meaningful right of appeal,” he added.
Born to Bangladeshi parents, Begum left London in 2015 and went to Syria via Turkey with two schoolfriends.
She 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 last year.
Her newborn baby died soon after she gave birth. Two of her other children also died under Daesh rule.
Then home secretary Sajid Javid last year annulled Begum’s British citizenship on national security grounds.
She took legal action, arguing the decision was unlawful as it had made her stateless and exposed her to the risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.
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.
The Supreme Court hearing is due to last two days with a decision expected to be handed down at a later date.