UK Supreme Court rules that Shamima Begum who joined Islamic State cannot return

The Supreme Court of United Kingdom has ruled that Shamima Begum, who joined the Islamic State as a teen, cannot return to the country. Shamima Begum left the UK aged 15[3] to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. Her intention to return to the UK in 2019 resulted in a public debate about the handling of returning jihadists. In February 2019, the British government issued an order revoking her British citizenship, later stating that she would never be allowed to return.

In July 2020, however, the Court of Appeal ruled that Begum should be permitted to return to the UK so that she could fairly contest this decision by instructing lawyers properly. This ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court which, on 26 February 2021, ruled unanimously against her, reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal.

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Robert Reed, said that the UK Court of Appeal made four errors last year when it ruled that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to carry out her appeal. According to Reed, the Court of Appeal was mistaken in ruling that Begum’s right to a fair hearing should prevail over other competing rights.  “The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations such as the safety of the public,” Reed said.

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