Shamima Begum’s Citizenship Appeal: Court of Appeal Decision Explained

Discover the latest development in Shamima Begum’s legal battle over her British citizenship. Recently, the Court of Appeal rendered a significant ruling upholding the decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship. This decision comes after a protracted legal challenge from Begum against the earlier ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). Let’s delve into the intricacies of the case and the factors influencing the appeal’s dismissal.


Shamima Begum, a British citizen born in Bethnal Green, London, in 1999, captured headlines when, at the tender age of 15, she ventured to Syria in February 2015 alongside two companions to join the ranks of the notorious terrorist group ISIL. Despite warnings raised by her school, Begum proceeded with her journey, eventually marrying an older Dutch national within a mere ten days of her arrival in Syria. Over the ensuing four years, she endured the loss of three children, each born amidst the turmoil of conflict.

Following ISIL’s collapse in January 2019, Begum surrendered herself to the Syrian Democratic Forces and found herself confined to the Al-Hawl refugee camp. Amidst media scrutiny, the Home Secretary, on February 19, 2019, made the controversial decision to strip Begum of her British citizenship, notwithstanding her possession of Bangladeshi citizenship through her familial ties.

Begum contested this decision, sparking a series of legal proceedings concerning her potential return to the UK for the appeal, culminating in the Supreme Court’s dismissal of her plea on February 26, 2021. Despite credible suspicions of Begum being trafficked for sexual exploitation, SIAC, on February 22, 2023, rejected her appeal against the deprivation decision.

Grounds of Appeal

Begum’s appeal to the Court of Appeal rested on five pivotal grounds:

  1. A plea under Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), emphasising concerns related to slavery.
  2. Alleged failure to address trafficking concerns under common law.
  3. Lack of consideration regarding potential statelessness.
  4. Grievances concerning procedural fairness.
  5. Accusations of a breach of public sector equality duty.

Court’s Decision

In a comprehensive dismissal, the Court of Appeal refuted all five grounds of Begum’s appeal. It deemed the argument under Article 4 of the ECHR as insufficient to warrant reconsideration, asserting that it held no substantial bearing on the Home Secretary’s decision. Similarly, the court rejected any notions of repatriation, citing Begum’s status outside the UK’s jurisdiction during the decision-making process.

Regarding the common law argument concerning trafficking, the court maintained that the Home Secretary had duly acknowledged relevant factors, thereby fulfilling legal obligations. Furthermore, the court dismissed concerns of potential statelessness, affirming that the Home Secretary had taken such considerations into account.

Addressing procedural fairness, the court aligned with the Home Secretary’s stance, asserting that prior representation wasn’t obligatory and, even if granted, would not have swayed the decision. Finally, the court upheld SIAC’s dismissal of the public sector equality duty argument, citing an exemption under the Equality Act 2010.


Despite acknowledging minor legal errors in the closed judgment, the Court of Appeal deemed them inconsequential to the overall outcome. This ruling, while legally sound, raises poignant questions about Begum’s uncertain future, devoid of citizenship and stateless. As the legal saga unfolds, it underscores broader societal inquiries about redemption and the treatment of individuals ensnared in such complex circumstances, echoing sentiments expressed by former Supreme Court judge Jonathan Sumption.

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