The Dublin-born seven-year-old son of a suspected Isis fighter has brought a High Court challenge over the State’s refusal to recognise him as an Irish citizen.
The case has been brought on behalf of Abdul Malik Bekmirzaev, currently living with his mother Iryna Paltarzhytskaya in her native Belarus.
His proceedings arise over the State’s refusal to re-issue him with an Irish passport or recognise him as 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, whom 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The boy’s lawyers say they learned from media reports in August that Mr Bekmirzaev’s citizenship had been revoked on the basis his 2001 marriage was one of convenience.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 his 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 Malik Bekmirzaev it was not issuing him with a new passport and did not consider him a citizen because his father’s citizenship had been revoked.
Despite being asked 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 including an order that he be issued with an Irish passport.
He also seeks declarations the decision to revoke his father’s citizenship does not have retrospective effect or affect Abdul Malik Bekmirzaev’s citizenship, and that he is an Irish citizen. The boy’s lawyers claim the refusal breaches his rights under the Constitution and 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 heard the boy and his mother were deported to Belarus last January from a refugee camp in Turkey and want to return to Ireland.
Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who converted to 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. Alexandr 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 defeat of the Isis “caliphate” in 2018. Alexandr 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. When the action came before Ms Justice Tara Burns on Thursday, she, on an ex parte basis, granted permission to bring the boy’s challenge. The matter will return before the court next month.