The UK Supreme Court has upheld the government’s removal of citizenship from East London woman Shamima Begum, who went to Syria six years ago to support Daesh / ISIS.
The court said that Begum has a right to contest the decision, but the government has a right to bar her from re-entering the UK, which means she cannot exercise the right to contest it.
Begum devoted herself to supporting a monstrous, blood-soaked ideology and movement (though she was only 15 when she went). But the removal of her citizenship is a setback, not a victory, for human rights.
Since 2003 the UK government’s legal powers to strip people of citizenship have grown considerably, as has the use of them. The number of people deprived of citizenship has risen from none over decades, to a few most years after 2003, to dozens a year after 2010, and over a hundred in 2017.
It is illegal under multiple international agreements to render anyone stateless. But since 2014 British law has given the government the right to do so in certain circumstances.
The Tories argue that they are not rendering Begum stateless because her parents are Bangladeshi citizens and so she is also eligible for citizenship there. Bangladesh says she is not a citizen, that she will not be allowed to become a citizen, and that it would deny her entry.
In any case, why should the UK government be able to dump the problem on another country where Begum has never been a citizen? Or on the Syrian Kurdish authorities who have borne the brunt of defeating Daesh?
It is doubly disturbing that a UK citizen can be stripped of citizenship and rendered stateless essentially because their parents are migrants.
Shamima Begum and others like her should be returned to the UK, restored to citizenship and put on trial as appropriate.