Ibrahim Karimi, a Bahraini national whose citizenship was arbitrarily revoked has been tonight deported forcibly from Bahrain to Iraq after fully serving his prison sentence of two years in Jau Central Prison, a long term detention facility located in the south-eastern parts of Bahrain.
Manama’s Fifth Lower Criminal sentenced Ibrahim Karimi on the 31st of March 2015 to two years of imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 Bahraini Dinar (BD) (approximately US$5,300). He was convicted of “publicly inciting hatred and contempt against the regime”, “publicly insulting the King” and “publicly insulting Saudi Arabia and its King” on a Twitter account (FreejKarimi) which he denied owning.
Karimi said he was forced to “confess” to the charges relating to comments posted on this Twitter account but retracted his “confession” during his trial and denied all charges relating to this Twitter account.
Amnesty International at a previous time considered Ibrahim Karimi’s prison sentence “relate solely to his right to freedom of expression, and does not believe he used or advocated violence. He is a prisoner of conscience”.
In a separate case, the Court of Appeal in Manama upheld Karimi’s deportation order on 8 March 2015. The Ministry of Interior had arbitrarily revoked Karimi’s nationality, along with 30 others, on 7 November 2012, for causing “damage to state security”, under Article 10 (c) of the Bahrain Citizenship Law.
Ibrahim Karimi does not have another nationality and he has been effectively rendered stateless.
Reports received by SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights confirmed that Today, 31st of October, and upon Ibrahim Karimi’s release from prison, The Bahraini authorities deported him against his wish to Iraq.
Since 2012, the Bahraini authorities has been revoking nationalities of 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 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 deported forcibly a number of those victims as the case of Ibrahim Karimi.
Many activists have voiced their concerns regarding the manner in which the government is dealing with these cases. “Tearing families apart and depriving one person from his national dignity is an awful thing to do. The government must re-think of its procedures concerning this punishment. We know that Bahrain authorities vastly applies this procedure those who fight for freedom and democracy” says Asma Darwish, Head of International Relations in SALAM.
Many of those victims have complained that their cases lacked any incriminatory evidences, and some victims were forced to sign false confessions following grave ordeals of torture. Where some of the others’ appeal process in the capital’s courts did not make it to bring about minimal degrees of justice.
Ibrahim Karimi was arrested by plainclothes police officers on 26 September 2015, at his home in the village of Al Dair. According to his family, the police officers did not present an arrest warrant, searched his house and car, and took mobile phones that belonged to him and other members of his family, and an electric-shock device the size of a pen. They then took him to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) where he was interrogated without a lawyer present, about comments posted on a Twitter account (FreejKarimi) criticizing the Saudi Arabian authorities as “unqualified” over how they had dealt with a stampede in September 2015 that caused the deaths of hundreds of people during Hajj, the Muslim religious pilgrimage to Mecca. He denied being the owner of that account. During his interrogation at the CID Ibrahim Karimi said he was kept in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep and made to stand.
He told his lawyer that he signed the “confession” after his interrogators insulted him and threatened that his son would be arrested if he did not confess. He also told interrogators that he was the owner of the electric-shock device and later plead guilty to this charge during his trial His family told Amnesty International that he had bought the device in Dubai in 2001 for his wife to use for her own protection. The device has been illegal in Bahrain since 2008.
Following his interrogation at the CID, Ibrahim Karimi was transferred to Dry Dock prison, north-east of Manama. He told his family that prison officers in Dry Dock prison threatened that they would make an example of him to the other prisoners and make him disappear. His trial began on 31 January and during the penultimate hearing on 17 March, the court did not allow defense witnesses to be summoned. Ibrahim Karimi lost his appeal against an order to deport him on 8 March. His nationality was arbitrarily revoked by the Ministry of Interior on 7 November 2012, along with 30 others, because they had caused “damage to state security”, under Article 10 (Paragraph C) of the Bahrain Citizenship Law.
The 31 included activists living abroad, a lawyer, a number of people active in politics within Bahrain, a number of Shi’a clerics and others with no political or religious affiliation. The 31 people were never officially notified of this decision, and learned about it from the media the day it was announced. Most of those living in Bahrain, including Ibrahim Karimi, do not have another nationality and have been effectively rendered stateless.
The government forced one of the 31, Shaikh Hussain al-Najati, to leave Bahrain on 23 April 2014. On 28 October 2014, a lower court ordered those who are still in Bahrain who only have Bahraini nationality to be deported. Their lawyers lodged an appeal the next day, and the deportation order has been halted until the court issues its verdict. Since 2012, the Ministry of Interior and the courts have arbitrarily revoked the nationality of hundreds of people.
Under the Bahrain Citizenship Law and its amendments, Article 10 stipulates that nationality can be revoked (Paragraph A) if a person engages in the military service of a foreign country; (Paragraph B) if he helps or engages in the service of an enemy country; or (Paragraph C) if he causes harm to state security. There is no further definition or detail of what could amount to “harm to state security”. This Paragraph – used to revoke the nationality of the 31 – is therefore framed too broadly, allowing for its use to punish the legitimate and peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.