UK Supreme Court rules Shamima Begum cannot return to appeal citizenship revocation
© Wikimedia (Tom Morris)
UK Supreme Court rules Shamima Begum cannot return to appeal citizenship revocation

The UK Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Shamima Begum’s request to be allowed to return to the country to appeal the deprivation of her citizenship. 

Begum was one of the three schoolgirls who left the UK to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2015. In early 2019, the UK secretary of state for the home department notified her of his intention to deprive her of her British citizenship on account of her having traveled to Syria and aligning herself with ISIL. Subsequently, Begum filed an application for leave to enter the UK in order to effectively appeal the deprivation decision. The application was dismissed.

She then challenged the dismissal of her application and the deprivation of citizenship in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). SIAC affirmed the secretary of state’s decision. On the same date, the Administrative Court granted Begum permission to apply for judicial review of the secretary of state’s dismissal of her application but dismissed the application for judicial review. On July 16, the Court of Appeal, sitting also as a divisional court, allowed Begum’s appeal against SIAC’s decision in the leave to enter appeal.

The home secretary appealed this decision to the Supreme Court by attaining the leapfrog certificate from the divisional court. The Supreme Court observed that the Court of Appeal erred in four respects: firstly, in understanding the scope of an appeal against the secretary of state’s decision to refuse a person leave to enter the UK; secondly, in its approach to the appeal against the dismissal of Begum’s application for judicial review by making its own assessment; thirdly, believing that when the right to have a fair hearing of an appeal came into conflict with the requirements of national security, the right to a fair hearing must prevail; and fourthly, the Secretary of State’s policy, intended for guidance while using own discretion, was treated as rule of law. In light of these observations, the Supreme Court dismissed Begum’s application for judicial review of SIAC’s deprivation appeal decision.