High court challenge looms over Shamima Begum being stripped of her citizenship
PUBLISHED: 17:14 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 21 March 2019
The family of a Bethnal Green 'Jihadi bride' is expected to launch a high court challenge today against the home secretary's decision to strip her of her British citizenship.
Shamima Begum was aged 15 when she travelled from her home to Syria with two classmates in February 2015.
She went on to marry to a Dutch Isis extremist fighter and bore three children, all of whom have died.
Home secretary Sajid Javid controversially revoked the 19-year-old’s UK citizenship last month and she is now in the al-Roj refugee camp in north Syria.
Her solicitor, Tasnime Akunjee, was at Tower Hamlets full council meeting yesterday.
He claimed the government had “broken the rule of law” by leaving her effectively stateless.
“Whatever she has done, she should face whatever legal consequences there are for that. But this is simply about the law,” he said.
This week Mr Akunjee returned from Syria where he tried to see the teenager, but was “blocked at the gates” by camp security.
He added they would “have to be innovative” in court proceedings because Miss Begum could not be a witness.
The Begum family is expected to seek a judicial review into Mr Javid’s decision through their court action.
Mr Akunjee claimed the government broke the European convention on human rights.
“This isn’t about just human rights, it’s much more than that,” he said. “This is down to the rule of law. That rule is that everyone is subject to the law and you can’t find some sneaky administrative device to stop it being applied properly. These rules were laid out as early as the Magna Carta. The decision was disproportionate and a British teenager is now effectively stateless.”
An appeal was also lodged with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) by the Begum family on Tuesday.
The government has argued Shamima has Bangladeshi citizenship through her parents. But Bangladesh has said it will not grant her asylum.
The Home Office said it would not comment on individual cases. But a spokesman added that to “protect the country, the home secretary has the power to deprive someone of their citizenship where it would not render them stateless”.
Shamima and fellow Bethnal Green Academy pupils, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, are believed to have taken the same route to Syria as classmate Sharmeena Begum, who joined the terror group in December 2014.
Another four girls from the same school were made “wards of the court” to stop them joining Isis.
Mr Akunjee attended Tower Hamlets’ full council meeting to encourage the local authority to conduct a review into how the teenage girls were able to join the terror group.
A motion asking for a serious case review to take place, put forward by Liberal Democrat Cllr Rabina Khan, was not discussed due to lack of time.
Cllr Khan said: “This is not political. I was part of the administration when these girls went to Syria. We need to know how these girls were radicalised.”
Mr Akunjee added: “We are simply calling for a review into what caused the worst case of child radicalisation the western hemisphere has ever seen.
“It should have already been done. Four children have left the country, one has given birth to three kids who are all now dead. I won’t leave that uninvestigated.”
A council spokesman said the case “did not meet the threshold for a serious case review” adding that “Tower Hamlets has some of the strongest measures in place to help prevent radicalisation”