Jihadi bride Shamima Begum, 21, CANNOT return to UK from Syria to fight for British citizenship: Supreme Court unanimously rules rights to fair appeal don’t trump public safety fears

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Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria

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She joined so-called Islamic State group in February 2015 and emerged in 2019
Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after

Begum, now 21, challenged the Home Office’s decision to remove her citizenship

The Home Office challenged that decision at the Supreme Court in November
Today, UK’s highest court ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter UK

By JAMES GANT FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 06:50 GMT, 26 February 2021

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Begum, now 21, challenged the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wanted to be allowed to return to Britain to pursue her appeal.

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The Court of Appeal ruled in July ‘the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the UK to pursue her appeal’.

The Home Office challenged that decision at the Supreme Court in November, arguing allowing her to return to the UK ‘would create significant national security risks’ and expose the public to ‘an increased risk of terrorism’.

Today, the UK’s highest court ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘The Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of the Government’s position, and reaffirmed the Home Secretary’s authority to make vital national security decisions.

‘The Government will always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security and our priority remains maintaining the safety and security of our citizens.’

Sajid Javid, who as home secretary at the time took the decision to revoke Begum’s British citizenship on national security grounds, also welcomed the ruling.

But human rights groups claimed it sets ‘an extremely dangerous precedent’ and accused the government of abandoning jihadi brides in ‘in a legal black hole’.

Begum (pictured in 2019) was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019

Lord Reed slams the Court of Appeals decision to allow Begum to return to UK
The judge said: ‘First, the Court of Appeal misunderstood the scope of an appeal against a decision of the Secretary of State to refuse a person leave to enter the UK.

‘Ms Begum’s appeal against the LTE decision could only be brought on the ground that the decision was unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

‘As Ms Begum did not advance that argument before the Court of Appeal, her appeal against the LTE decision should have been dismissed.

‘Secondly, the Court of Appeal erred in its approach to the appeal against the dismissal of Ms Begum’s application for judicial review of the Secretary of State’s refusal of leave to enter the UK.

‘It made its own assessment of the requirements of national security, and preferred it to that of the Secretary of State, despite the absence of any relevant evidence before it, or any relevant findings of fact by the court below.

‘In particular, there was no evidence before the Court as to whether the national security concerns about Ms Begum could be addressed and managed by her being arrested and charged upon her arrival in the UK, or by her being made the subject of a Terrorist Prevention and Investigation Measure.

‘The Court of Appeal’s approach did not give the Secretary of State’s assessment the respect which it should have received, given that it is the Secretary of State who has been charged by Parliament with responsibility for making such assessments, and who is democratically accountable to Parliament for the discharge of that responsibility.

‘Thirdly, the Court of Appeal mistakenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing of an appeal came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail.

‘But the right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public. If a vital public interest makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard, then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it.

‘The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation appeal to be stayed until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.

‘That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.

‘In those circumstances, Ms Begum’s application for judicial review of the LTE decision was properly dismissed by the Administrative Court, as should be her cross-appeal in respect of SIAC’s preliminary decision in the deprivation appeal.

‘Fourthly, the Court of Appeal mistakenly treated the Secretary of State’s extraterritorial human rights policy as if it were a rule of law which he must obey, as opposed to something intended to guide the exercise of his statutory discretion.

‘On a deprivation appeal, SIAC is not entitled to re-exercise the Secretary of State’s discretion for itself. Rather, unless there is an issue as to whether the Secretary of State has acted in breach of his obligations under has the Human Rights Act, SIAC is confined to reviewing the Secretary of State’s decision by applying essentially the same principles that apply in administrative law.

‘In this case, having considered detailed assessments by his officials and by the Security Service, the Secretary of State was not satisfied that depriving Ms Begum of British citizenship would expose her to a real risk of mistreatment within the meaning of his policy.

‘SIAC decided that that conclusion was not an unreasonable one. There was no defect in SIAC’s reasoning in that regard.

‘Ms Begum’s application for judicial review of SIAC’s preliminary decision in the deprivation appeal is therefore dismissed.’

Announcing the decision, Lord Reed said: ‘The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the Home Secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.’

He said: ‘The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public.

‘If a vital public interest makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it.

‘The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.

‘That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.’

He also slammed the Court of Appeals’ decision to allow her to return, saying there were four principal errors in its judgment.

Lord Reed said it wrongly ‘made its own assessment of the requirements of national security and preferred it to that of the Secretary of State, despite the absence of any relevant evidence before it’.

The judge said: ‘The Court of Appeal’s approach did not give the Secretary of State’s assessment the respect which it should have received, given that it is the Secretary of State who has been charged by Parliament with responsibility for making such assessments, and who is democratically accountable to Parliament for the discharge of that responsibility.’

Lord Reed continued: ‘There was no evidence before the court from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether it was either possible or appropriate to ensure that Ms Begum was arrested on her return and charged with an offence.

‘Nor was it known whether, if she were arrested and charged, she would be remanded in custody: that would be a matter for the courts.’

The judge also said there was ‘no evidence, nor any submissions, before the Court of Appeal as to whether or not a Tpim [terrorism prevention and investigation measure] could or would be imposed on Ms Begum, or as to the effectiveness of any such measure in addressing the risk which she might pose.’

He concluded: ‘The Court of Appeal also appears to have overlooked the limitations to its competence, both institutional and constitutional, to decide questions of national security.’

Former Home Secretary Mr Javid said he ‘strongly welcomed’ the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He said: ‘The Home Secretary is responsible for the security of our citizens and borders, and therefore should have the power to decide whether anyone posing a serious threat to that security can enter our country.

‘There are no simple solutions to this situation but any restrictions of rights and freedoms faced by this individual are a direct consequence of the extreme actions that she and others have taken, in violation of government guidance and common morality.’

But human rights lawyers immediately hit out at the decision.

Rosie Brighouse, a lawyer with Liberty, said: ‘The right to a fair trial is not something democratic governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship.

‘If a government is allowed to wield extreme powers like banishment without the basic safeguards of a fair trial it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

‘The security services have safely managed the returns of hundreds of people from Syria but the Government has chosen to target Shamima Begum.

‘This approach does not serve justice, it’s a cynical distraction from a failed counter-terror strategy and another example of this Government’s disregard for access to justice and the rule of law.’

read more here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9302709/Shamima-Begum-21-return-UK-fight-British-citizenship.html?ito=push-notification&ci=83955&si=19677827

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