ISIS bride appeals UK citizenship revocation
UK woman who married islamic state militant appeals citizenship revocation
A British-born woman, Shamima Begum, who traveled to Syria as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State, is currently appealing the removal of her British citizenship. She argues that the British government failed to adequately consider whether she was a victim of trafficking when her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds in 2019. Begum's case has been subject to extensive legal proceedings.
Shamima Begum initially contested the citizenship removal at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a specialized tribunal for appeals against citizenship removal on national security grounds. Her case has traversed between SIAC, the UK's Supreme Court, and back again, all while she remains in the al-Roj detention camp in northeastern Syria.
Allegations of trafficking and state failures
In February, SIAC acknowledged a "credible suspicion" that Begum might have been trafficked to Syria for sexual exploitation. They also raised concerns about "state failures" related to her journey from London to Syria through Turkey in 2015. However, SIAC ruled that the suspicion of trafficking alone was insufficient for her appeal to succeed, a decision now being challenged by Begum's legal team.
Legal arguments and public debate
Begum's lawyers argue that the British government had a legal obligation to evaluate whether she might be a trafficking victim and assess any potential state failures before stripping her of British citizenship. In contrast, the government contends that the decision to revoke citizenship should primarily consider the individual's risk, irrespective of how they became a risk.
Begum's case has sparked intense debate in the UK, with varying opinions about her culpability for her actions and the circumstances surrounding her departure for Syria. She left London in 2015 at the age of 15, traveled with friends to Syria, married an IS fighter, and gave birth to three children, all of whom died as infants. Currently, Begum is 24 years old and remains in the al-Roj camp in Syria with other foreign women and children.
The legal proceedings and the broader issue of repatriating citizens from Syrian detention camps have raised complex societal and political questions in the UK and beyond. As of July, Britain has repatriated 11 individuals from Syria since 2019, according to human rights organization Rights and Security International.