The British Supreme Court has ended the dream of returning home to Shamima Begum, a former British citizen who escaped at the age of 15 to enter the Islamic State in Syria. On Friday (26), the main UK court dismissed an appeal in which she asked to return to her home country.
Now 21, Shamima is part of a group that has come to be known in Europe as the “wives of the Islamic State,” women co-opted to join the terrorist group, mostly in their teens and under. false promises of good living conditions.
After the dismantling of the jihadist organization, many tried to return to their country of origin. Some of those who succeed have been prosecuted for treason – the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks that have left people dead in European countries. .
Shamima, whose family is from Bangladesh, married a Dutch Islamic State activist and had three children in Syria – none survived. He was captured by the Kurds in 2019 in Baghuz, on the banks of the Euphrates, and held in prison camps in northeastern Syria.
Her British nationality was taken from her that year, when she was identified by journalists from the Al-Hol camp, one of the largest in the region. With a newborn baby in her arms, she said she wanted to return to the UK, drawing international attention and hostility from some of the 12,000 foreigners held there. She was transferred to Roj camp, near the Iraqi border, when her son died of pneumonia at the age of three weeks.
The UK government did not respond to his return request and revoked his citizenship. Under UK law, the Home Office (responsible for security) can impose the measure in the name of the “public good” – Samima is considered a risk to national security because she is part of the terrorist group.
In an interview with the BBC, Shamima said she was sorry and her lawyers argue that she is prohibited from contacting them, making it difficult for her to defend herself properly. But in Friday’s trial, the Supreme Court refused to reject the thesis that the right to a fair defense takes precedence over national security demands.
The five judges unanimously decided that the student could not return to defend herself or regain her citizenship in Syria.
In a statement, the current Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, commemorated the decision and said that “the government will always take the most vigorous measures possible to protect our national security and our continued priority to maintain security and protection of our citizens “.
The Supreme Court also ruled that any final appeal by Shamima against the withdrawal of her citizenship must be postponed until she can participate in the trial “without compromising public safety”, without however specifying the conditions.
In total, around 900 Britons are estimated to have joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. About half have returned to the UK, but according to human rights organizations 9 men, 16 women and 35 children are still in Syria, with another 60,000 relatives of ISIS operatives arrested. Besides the British, more than 200 women from ten European countries are in the prison camps.
In Al-Hol, the largest of the camps, there are 10,000 foreigners from 57 countries. According to the UN, health and safety conditions in various areas, including Roj, are critical, with dozens of people killed from malnutrition, hypothermia or illness.
“Thousands of people are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse and deprivation in conditions and treatment that may well constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under international law, without recourse. staff at their disposal, ”the organization said, asking countries to repatriate their citizens.
The Belgian and British governments have accepted the return of the children, and the French government has decided to repatriate minor orphans or children in serious condition – in total, 35 have returned to the country.
This week, a dozen French women went on hunger strike in an attempt to return to their country of origin, but the government pleaded for adults who participated in the Islamic State to be tried in Syria and Iraq, where they would have committed their crimes.