Bahraini News Agency reported that on 31 January of last year, a royal decree was issued revoking the citizenship of 72 Bahrainis who have been accused of damaging the Kingdom’s interests and acting contrary to the duty of loyalty. The decision was based on Article 10(c) of the Bahraini Nationality Act along with the amendments made in 2014. This decision comes in support of the suggestion made by the Interior Minister, which was backed by the Cabinet, to revoke the nationality of 72 Bahraini nationals.
The vast majority of those being stripped of their nationality are political and human rights activists, media personalities, and opposition figures present abroad that emigrated from Bahrain because of continuous targeting for exercising their activities in support of democratic change. This “decree” has arisen with the absence of any court cases or trials.
It is worth remembering that this is the second list made to strip Bahraini nationals from their nationality. The first list, on 6 November 2012, was issued by the Ministry of Interior to strip 31 Bahrainis of their nationality under vague reasons and unlawful conditions. The 2012 decision was apparently carried out under a royal decree too, which occurred without a trial or case. The decision emanates from a political background, and is backed by what is called Anti-Terrorism Laws wielded by the Bahraini courts, which, according to Human Rights Watch, has played a pivotal role in protecting the repressive regime in Bahrain.
It should be noted that the Bahraini authorities have canceled the nationality-revocation decision against 9 Bahrainis, bringing the total victims of the deprivation decision to 115 Bahraini nationals – mostly politicians, media figures, political activists and human rights advocates, with some fighters that have joined armed groups abroad part of the list too.
Those stripped of their nationality in 2012 have exhausted all avenues in the domestic judicial system, which the judiciary concluded on 29 April 2014, saying that “the issue before and after – remains within the ambit of the executive power that issues revocation of nationality decisions”. A further judgment was made by the Lower Criminal Court in Bahrain on 28 October 2014 to deport the remaining victims of the first revocation list that still live in the country, but the decision has been delayed until the Appeals Court examines the case in April of this year.
As such, Bahrain SALAM for Human Rights is following with grave concern the escalation of nationality revocation cases, which are being carried out by royal decrees and the judiciary, under decisions built on political and revengeful motivations as a weapon for political suppression against opposition, political and human rights activists. These decisions are contrary to the founding principles of the Bahraini Constitution, which bars such instances against nationals, and is an infringement against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed and ratified by Bahrain in 2006, which warns of making a citizen stateless and affirms the rights of a citizen to a nationality.
Bahrain SALAM for Human Rights demands of the Bahraini Government to void all nationality-revocation decisions and executive processes against Bahraini nationals. Also, urge the international community, from international bodies to human rights organisations, to exercise their obligation regarding this issue – as well as obligate Bahrain to reverse these decisions, and to start working on improving the human rights situation. Further, confirm the right of the victims to submit their cases and seek recompense in international courts because of the absence of domestic judicial mechanisms to help victims return their nationality right.
Bahrain SALAM for Human Rights
3 January 2015