Bethnal Green Academy ‘ISIS bride’ Shamima Begum challenges removal of British citizenship in court

Sign outside Bethnal Green Academy 2016

A legal challenge over the removal of British citizenship from Bethnal Green Academy ‘ISIS bride’ Shamima Begum is being heard today by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

Shamima Begum and two friends left the UK in 2015 to join ISIS in Syria after being radicalised when she was a 15-year old schoolgirl at Bethnal Green Academy in Gosset Street.

Since then the academy has been absorbed by Mulberry Schools Trust and renamed Mulberry Academy Shoreditch in a bid to distance itself from the ISIS brides scandal.

Shamima was discovered in a Syrian refugee camp in February this year by a Times journalist.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid quickly made the controversial decision to strip Shamima of her British citizenship as she had shown no remorse for her actions.

But by doing so it has been argued that the Home Secretary rendered the British-born woman stateless despite this being illegal under international law.

Risk of hanging if sent to Bangladesh

Tasnime Akunjee, lawyer for Shamima Begum

The court case will be heard by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) which hears challenges to decisions to remove a person’s British citizenship on national security grounds.

The UK government claims that under Bangladeshi law, Ms Begum is a citizen by descent, and so cannot be made stateless by losing her British citizenship.

However her lawyers, including Tasnime Akunjee who has been heavily involved in her case from the beginning, say Ms Begum has never visited Bangladesh, does not speak Bengali, that the Bangladeshi government would not allow her to enter the country and if she did enter illegally she would be hanged.

Radicalisation? What radicalisation?

What some commentators find puzzling is that Tower Hamlets Council has done its best to completely ignore the case of Shamima Begum and other girls radicalised by ISIS extremists in the borough.

Which means borough parents have no idea how to protect their own children from such a fate.

The case is scheduled to last four days.

LW Comment

The most enduring failure of Tower Hamlets Council with regard to Shamima Begum is that there has been no Serious Case Review by Tower Hamlets Safeguarding Children’s Board.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) states that “A Serious Case Review (SCR) is a locally conducted multi-agency review in circumstances where a child has been abused or neglected, resulting in serious harm or death and there is cause for concern as to the way in which the relevant authority or persons have worked together to safeguard the child.”

The emphasised words in the definition above are the most likely explanation for the failure of the Council to undertake a SCR. It would reveal too much and would cause further embarrassment to a failing Labour administration and follows its established pattern of putting its own party political desires over the needs of borough residents.

Sound familiar?

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