End Unlawful Detention Press release

Supreme Court rules in Shamima Begum case

The Supreme Court has handed down its ruling in the case of Begum v Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Commenting, Reprieve director Maya Foa said:

“Barring Shamima Begum from Britain remains a cynical ploy to make her someone else’s responsibility. Like many of its European counterparts, the UK is more than capable of bringing home British detainees in Syria, many of whom left as teenagers after being trafficked or groomed online.

The Government should bring the British families back to the UK so that children can be provided with support they need, and adults can be prosecuted where there are charges to answer. Abandoning them in a legal black hole – in Guantanamo-like conditions – is out of step with British values and the interests of justice and security”

There are currently no more than 20 British families in detention camps in north-east Syria, more than half of them children. These camps are unstable and unsafe, and have been described by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism as a “blight on the conscience of humanity.”

The UK Government’s decision to strip nationals of citizenship and abandon them in the camps is increasingly at odds with the actions of its allies. The US has repatriated 28 of its nationals, and the Biden administration’s ambassador to the UN recently stated: “beyond being the best option from a security standpoint, repatriation is also simply the right thing to do.” Germany, Finland and Ukraine have also recently repatriated nationals from the camps.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill, has made clear that British justice is capable of dealing with people accused of committing terrorism offences overseas while members of ISIS, saying that prosecution would be possible “in the vast majority of cases”.