Citizenship Rights Stripped Away
Authorities Take New Powers to Arbitrarily Revoke Nationality
(Beirut, August 21, 2014) – Ten people whose Bahraini citizenship was withdrawn without due process are facing deportation or jail, Human Rights Watch said today. They are among 31 people declared stateless in November 2012, allegedly for damaging state security. The others have left the country.
July 2014 amendments to Bahrain’s citizenship laws will grant the Interior Ministry additional authority to revoke citizenship of people who fail in their “duty of loyalty” to the state, a vaguely worded provision that could be used against government critics, Human Rights Watch said. Recent amendments to Bahrain’s counterterrorism law, in tandem with the recent failure of Bahrain’s criminal justice system to provide fair trials and deliver impartial verdicts, provide a further legal pretext for the arbitrary stripping of citizenship, in clear violation of international law.
“The Bahraini authorities’ latest repressive tactic is to invest themselves with further powers to arbitrarily strip critics of their citizenship,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future.”
Bahrain should repeal laws that will allow authorities to strip Bahrainis of their nationality on grounds so vague as to be arbitrary, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should immediately restore the citizenship rights of the 10 people who face deportation and of the 21 others whose citizenship rights were removed without due process.
Bahraini authorities have either obstructed the right of appeal or refused to justify the decision to revoke the citizenship of the nine men and one woman who remain in the country. They have no residence permits and face charges of violating asylum and immigration law.
Twelve news and information providers are currently detained in Bahrain. Many of them are photographers or cameramen, who have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011 because their visual coverage of the protests and the government’s crackdown threaten the kingdom’s image: here.