08 Aug 2022

Child of alleged Isis fighter challenges state's decision not to recognise him as Irish citizen

Child of alleged Isis fighter challenges state's decision not to recognise him as Irish citizen

The Dublin born seven-year-old son of a suspected ISIS fighter has brought a High Court challenge over the State's decision refusal to recognise him as an Irish citizen.

The case has been brought by Abdul Malik Bekmirzaev, who is currently living with his mother Iryna Paltarzhytskaya in her native Belarus. 

The boy's proceedings arise over the State's refusal to re-issue him with an Irish passport or recognised as being an Irish citizen, which he claims is incorrect and in breach of his rights.

That decision came after the State retrospectively revoked the naturalisation certificate granted to his father Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who it is alleged joined ISIS in Syria. He is missing and his family fear he is dead.

Alexandr Bekmirzaev became a naturalised Irish citizen in 2010, based on his marriage to an EU citizen in 2001, who he divorced prior to obtaining his citizenship.

The boy's Irish citizenship was based on his father's naturalisation.

The boy's lawyers say they learned from media reports in August that Mr Bekmirzaev's citizenship had been revoked on the basis that his 2001 marriage was one of convenience.

Earlier this year the boy brought separate judicial review proceedings challenging the Minister for Foreign Affairs' failure to make a decision whether to renew the boy's Irish passport. 

That action was resolved between the parties in June, but no new passport was issued, it is claimed.

In September the State informed Abdul that it was not issuing him with a new passport and did not consider him a zitizen because his father's citizenship had been revoked.

Despite being asked to on several occasions the state also refused to furnish the boy's lawyers with a copy of the revocation without a letter of authority from Alexandr Bekmirzaev.

As a result of the refusal the boy has brought proceedings against the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The boy, represented by Michael Lynn SC with Colin Smith Bl, instructed by solicitor Wendy Lyon, seeks various orders and declarations from the court including an order that the boy be issued with an Irish passport.

He also seeks declarations that the decision to revoke his father's citizenship does not have retrospective effect nor effect Abdul's citizenship, and that the boy is an Irish citizen.

The boy's lawyers claim the refusal breaches both his Constitutional rights and his rights under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The revocation of his father's Irish citizenship was not carried out in accordance with law it is further argued.

The court also heard that boy and his mother were deported to Belarus from a refugee camp Turkey in January, and want to return to Ireland.

Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who converted in Islam in the 1990s, came to Ireland from Belarus in 1999. 

He married a British national in 2001, which enabled him to obtain Irish citizenship. After that marriage ended in early 2010, the boy's parents were married.

Mr Bekmirzaev departed for ISIS controlled Syria, to allegedly fight for ISIS, shortly after his son's birth in Dublin in April 2013. The family reunited in Syria in 2014 where they lived, until the ISIS 'caliphate's defeat in 2018.

Mr Bekmiraev was imprisoned following his capture by Kurdish soldiers, while his son and wife were moved to various camps in Syria and Turkey. The boy's Irish passport was confiscated by the Turkish authorities, prompting his application for a renewal.

The action came before Ms Justice Tara Burns on Thursday, who on an ex parte basis granted the boy permission to bring his challenge.  The matter will return before the court next month.

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