Advertisement

British commission upholds government decision to strip Shamina Begum of citizenship

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid leaves No. 10 Downing Street on February 12, 2020. A commission said on Wednesday he made the right decision in stripping the citizenship of then teenager Shamina Begum for going to Syria and marrying an Islamic State fighter. File Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE
Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid leaves No. 10 Downing Street on February 12, 2020. A commission said on Wednesday he made the right decision in stripping the citizenship of then teenager Shamina Begum for going to Syria and marrying an Islamic State fighter. File Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A British woman who left the country as a teenager to marry an Islamic State fighter will not regain her citizenship after a court ruled that it was legal for the government to strip her of her status.

Shamina Begum was 15 when she left her home in East London in 2015 with two other teenage friends and traveled to Syria to support the terrorist group. Four years later, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her citizenship after learning she was in a refugee camp in northeastern Syria.

Advertisement

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission said Begum representatives failed to prove that Javid's actions were unlawful despite evidence that Begum was "recruited, transferred and then harbored for the purpose of sexual exploitation" by the militants.

"It is for the secretary of state to decide what is in the public interest, and how much weight to give to certain factors, subject always to this commission intervening on ordinary administrative law principles," Judge Robert Jay wrote in the ruling.

"Reasonable people will profoundly disagree with the secretary of state, but that raises wider societal and political questions, which it is not the role of this commission to address."

Advertisement

Amnesty International, which called Begum a human trafficking victim of the Islamic State, said she should not be penalized for what they considered clear efforts by the militants to exploit and recruit children to their cause.

"This is a very disappointing decision," Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International's British Refugee and Migrant Rights director, said in a statement. "The Home Secretary shouldn't be in the business of exiling British citizens by stripping them of their citizenship.

"Shamima Begum had lived all her life in the U.K. right up to the point she was lured to Syria as an impressionable 15-year-old. ISIS has been responsible for appalling crimes in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, but that doesn't change that Shamima Begum is British and was groomed and trafficked to Syria."

The British government praised the decision, saying it was a security issue and the Home Office must have the power to block anyone from entering it considers a risk.

Latest Headlines