8 NGOs condemn Bahraini authorities’ decisions to revoke nationality of Bahraini citizens

8 national human rights organisations condemn the revocation of nationality decisions carried out by the Bahraini authorities. These NGOs are : Bahrain Human Rights Observatory, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights, Bahrain Human Rights Society, and Justice Human Rights Organization
On 6 November 2012, the Bahraini authorities revoked the nationality of 31 Bahraini political opponents and nationals based on either their political views, activism, religious beliefs, or heritage, without proper legal proceedings or justifications. It is in direct contravention of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
The Bahraini authorities did not stop at this decision, but moved on to revoke the nationality of more than 190 Bahrainis, who are too mainly involved in political, human rights or media activism. The consequence of these decisions have left the vast majority stateless. Amnesty International voiced the following:
“Such retaliation has a chilling effect on peaceful dissent and freedom of expression, and has serious human rights implications for everyone in Bahrain.”
Instead of resolving this case and returning the victims’ citizenships, the Bahraini authorities further revoked the citizenships of 5 Bahraini nationals and issued life sentences to each, under the alleged charge of communicating information to foreign agencies. Many activists have voiced their concerns regarding the manner in which the confessions were extracted, with many of the revoked nationals’ families lodging complaints on behalf of their members, confirming this issue. In addition, many have complained that their cases lacked any incriminatory evidences, and the victims were forced to sign false confessions following grave ordeals of torture.
The 8 organisations that have signed this statement see the continued use of revocation of citizenship as a form of punishment against political opposition, restricting their rights specifically in relation to freedom of opinion. This right has been enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which confirms:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Considering this altogether, the 8 signatory human rights organisations urge the Bahraini authorities to consider the following:
1. Return citizenships to all those that have had it arbitrarily revoked
2. Stop the use of revocation of citizenship as a tool to punish political opposition
3. Reasonably compensate the victims in relation to the losses and hardships caused to them because of the revocation.