UN demands Britain repatriates Shamima Begum and says there is ‘credible suspicion’ the ‘vulnerable’ jihadi bride was recruited by ISIS ‘for sexual exploitation’

March 6th, 2024

UN demands Britain repatriates Shamima Begum and says there is

A group of United Nations experts have urged Britain to repatriate Shamima Begum, claiming credible evidence the ‘vulnerable’ jihadi bride was recruited by ISIS for ‘sexual exploitation’.



Shamima Begum, now 24 and living in a refugee camp in northern Syria, was stripped of her citizenship after leaving the country aged 15 to marry an Islamic State fighter.



She lost an appeal last month against the decision, prompting UN special rapporteurs to urge Britain to provide her with protection, including repatriation, and review the decision to revoke her citizenship.



‘Begum remains stripped of her citizenship, vulnerable, and denied assistance and protection as a possible victim of trafficking,’ the experts said.



In their statement, the UN experts argued: ‘There is a credible suspicion that Ms Begum was recruited, transferred and then harboured for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is an international crime, a form of modern slavery.’



Voicing their concern at the February 23 ruling, the special rapporteurs added: ‘Protections owed to victims of trafficking and those at risk of trafficking, especially children, must be respected to be meaningful,’ they said.



The statement was issued by the special rapporteurs on people trafficking, contemporary slavery, human rights while countering terrorism, the sale and sexual exploitation of children, and on violence against women.



Special rapporteurs are mandated by the UN Human Rights Council but are independent experts and do not speak for the United Nations.



England’s Court of Appeal rejected all five arguments presented by Begum. 



The risk to national security took precedence over whether she had been a potential victim of trafficking, it ruled.



Giving her ruling, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: ‘It could be argued the decision in Ms Begum’s case was harsh. It could also be argued that Ms Begum is the author of her own misfortune. 



‘But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view. Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful. 

‘We have concluded it was not and the appeal is dismissed.’



Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary who took the decision to deprive Ms Begum of her British citizenship, said afterwards: ‘I welcome the court ruling, which has again upheld my decision to remove an individual’s citizenship on national security grounds.



‘This is a complex case but Home Secretaries should have the power to prevent anyone entering our country who is assessed to pose a threat to it.’



Begum could still take her case to the UK Supreme Court.



The 24-year-old, whose family is of Bangladeshi origin, left her east London home for Syria with two school friends in 2015.



While there, she married a fighter with the IS jihadist group and had three children, none of whom survived.



In 2019, Begum argued she was left de facto stateless when Britain’s then interior minister Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship on national security grounds.



She said at the time she regretted everything she did in Syria and begged for a second chance in the UK, claiming she was ‘brainwashed’.



The 19-year-old, who lost three children prematurely while living in Baghuz, spoke out for the first time after the death of baby Jerrah in an interview with The Times.



She told the newspaper: ‘Since I left Baghuz I really regretted everything I did, and I feel like I want to go back to the UK for a second chance to start my life over again.



‘I was brainwashed. I came here believing everything that I had been told while knowing little about the truths of my religion.’



Ms Begum said she was radicalised online after feeling ‘slightly depressed’ and ‘looking for a purpose’. 



She added it was ‘easy to manipulate’ her at the time because of a disconnect with her family.