Begum v Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 918

In 2019 after ISIL was dislodged from Raqqah, Shamima Begum was discovered in a refugee camp in Syria. When she expressed a wish to return home to Bethnal Green, the Government wasn’t welcoming. She had left to join ISIL and she was considered a serious risk to national security. Her British citizenship was removed and she was barred from entering the UK.

In February 2020, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) held that although in her current circumstances she could not play any meaningful part in her appeal against the decision to deprive her of citizenship, this did not mean that she should be allowed back into the UK to take an active part in the appeal.

However, in July 2020 the Court of Appeal held that fairness required that she be permitted to return to participate in the appeal. The Court held that as her appeal would not be fair or effective if she was not permitted to return, pressing on with the appeal would be “unthinkable” (and would compound the unfairness), and staying (pausing) the proceedings was also wrong, as it would render the decision effectively incapable of challenge and failed to take account of ongoing risks that she was suffering mistreatment.

Whilst the Court recognised the Government’s national security concerns, it was considered that these could be managed in the UK by way of e.g. arrest and remand in custody pending trial, or if that were not feasible, through a TPIM (Terrorist Prevention and Investigation Measure) restricting her movement, contacts and residence.

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