Shamima Begum, the UK-born woman who left for Syria as a teenager to join the Islamic State, launched a new appeal against the stripping of her British citizenship. Begum’s lawyers argued that the UK did not adequately evaluate if she was a potential trafficking victim.
In 2019, the British government revoked Begum’s citizenship citing national security concerns, shortly after she was located in a Syrian detention camp. Begum has since been battling this decision, taking her case from the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) to the Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, SIAC acknowledged that there was a legitimate suspicion that Begum might have been trafficked for sexual exploitation and identified potential “state failures” regarding her 2015 journey from London to Syria. However, they determined that this potential trafficking evidence was insufficient for her appeal to be successful.
According to a report by the guardian, Samantha Knights, representing Begum, stated in the Court of Appeal that the UK had a legal obligation to consider if Begum was trafficked or if there were any state shortcomings before revoking her citizenship. Conversely, the government’s legal representatives argued that citizenship revocation decisions should center on the individual’s potential threat level.
Begum’s situation has divided public opinion in Britain. Some view her as a supporter of terrorism, while others contend that she was a minor when she left and should be tried in the UK if suspected of any crimes. Begum, who left the UK at 15 in 2015, married an IS militant and had three children in Syria, all of whom died young. She has been detained in the al-Roj camp since 2019.
SIAC previously remarked that the Home Office’s decision concerning Begum would be polarizing, emphasizing that the matter goes beyond legal issues. Since SIAC’s decision, many individuals have been returned from Syrian detention camps to their native countries. As of July, the UK has repatriated 11 people, as reported by Rights and Security International.