Shamima Begum Loses Effort to Return to U.Ok. in Struggle for Citizenship

United Nations human rights experts this month called on 57 states, including the UK, to repatriate the families, citing the “unclear reasons” for which they were detained. About 10 French women detained in the Roj camp went on hunger strike this week to pressure their government to take them home.

“If some western nations like Britain have difficulty tracking their returnees, it will be just as difficult for the Kurdish authorities, who have limited evidence that these women have committed crimes,” said Thomas Renard, a researcher at the Egmont Institute. “So are we going to keep them illegally detained forever with no prospect of trial?”

In addition to humanitarian concerns, researchers have warned that the consequences of not bringing their citizens home could outweigh the risks of their repatriation. Some women have left the camps and are no longer registered, which could pose a risk of further radicalization. Lawyers have also argued that repentant women could share valuable information about Islamic State if they were interrogated at home.

Around 900 British nationals traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State. Hundreds of them died there. According to the human rights group Reprieve, around 450 people have returned since then, but at least nine men and 16 women and around 35 children remain in Syria. This includes Ms. Begum, whose case has ricocheted from one UK court to another.

By revoking Ms. Begum’s citizenship in 2019, the authorities hoped to prevent her return, but this could potentially have had the opposite effect.

The appeals court ruled in July that only by returning to the UK could Ms. Begum seek a “fair and effective remedy”. The UK government appealed the judgment and sent the case to the Supreme Court.

At a hearing in November, a lawyer for Ms. Begum argued that only in the UK could she properly set up her defense as it was difficult to communicate with her defense team while she was in Syria.

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