Shamima Begum’s family considers legal action over citizenship move

Lawyer says family disappointed at Home Office decision to revoke teenager’s citizenship

Three British schoolgirls at Gatwick Airport
Shamima Begum and two schoolmates on CCTV at Gatwick Airport in 2015 
(Image credit: Metropolitan Police)

The family of Shamima Begum say they are considering taking legal action against the decision to strip her of UK citizenship.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered that Begum - who joined the Islamic State group in Syria aged 15 - be deprived of her British citizenship. But Begum’s family's lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said they were “considering all legal avenues to challenge the decision”, that had left them “very disappointed”.

The Guardian says the law allows the Home Secretary to remove citizenship if he can show Begum has behaved “in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK” and has “reasonable grounds for believing that the person is able, under the law of a country or territory outside the UK, to become a national of such a country or territory”.

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However, Javid’s decision has sparked heated debate. Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police detective and friend of Begum's family, told the BBC: “It seems to be a bizarre decision and I'm not entirely sure how that will stand up legally.”

The human rights group Liberty said “taking away a person’s citizenship” is a “serious” move and “must not be wielded lightly”. Writing for The Independent, Rashmee Roshan Lall argues the decision “reflects poorly on a country that regularly requests others to repatriate their illegal immigrants” and contradicts “western principles of secular humanism”.

Tory MP George Freeman said the move was a “mistake” that would set a “dangerous precedent”. However, his fellow Conservative Robert Halfon backed Javid’s order, saying it was “absolutely the right decision”.

This week, Begum gave birth to a boy in the refugee camp in which she is currently living. The 19-year-old has asked for more understanding from the British public. Earlier this week, she said: “I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through.”

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