SALAM: Forceful exile and nationality revocation of Sheikh Mohamed Khojistah is a crime that undermines basic human rights

The Bahraini authorities have persistently insisted on breaching the Bahraini constitution, international norms, and the UN Human Rights Council, by discriminating and marginalizing the indigenous Bahraini population. Yet it took it a step further recently by forcibly deporting and stripping the nationality of prominent Bahraini scholar, Sheikh Mohamed Khojistah.
Last year on 29 January 2015, the King of Bahrain ordered under Decree number 8, that 72 Bahrainis would have their citizenships revoked, totaling 260 unlawful nationality revocations since 2012. Under such a list, Sheikh Khojistah was one of the victims. There was never a criminal case lodged against Sheikh Khojistah. Now he has been deported from Bahrain, which is a clear contravention of Article 17 of the Bahraini constitution, which states:
“No citizen shall be deported from Bahrain, nor shall he be denied re-entry.” (Article 17(c) of Bahrain Constitution 2002)
The manner in which Sheikh Khojistah was deported also infringes on an array of rights. On 21 February 2016, Sheikh Khojistah received a call from the Department of Immigration, Passports, and Citizenships demanding him to attend. Sheikh Khojistah was accompanied by his lawyer, Mehdi Al-Basri, where they were later informed that Sheikh Khojistah will be detained, pending the execution of the deportation order, despite processes of appeal yet to be completed.
Concerning such a serious case, the legal office of the lawyer, Mohammed Al-Tajer, who represents the majority of those who had their citizenships revoked in Bahrain, released a statement on Sheikh Khojistah’s case. The statement declared:
“On 5/2/2015, Sheikh Mohamed Khojistah was ordered by the Department of Immigration, Passports, and Citizenships to hand in his passport and smart ID card, whereby he would be given a new ID in line with his now stateless position. On 15/4/2015, his appeals to correct his legal position were rejected and was ordered to find a sponsor. On 25/3/2015, he was sent a courts summons from the Lower Criminal Court (no. 10) to attend a hearing on 5/5/2015. The court issued a judgment that Sheikh Khojistah’s stay in Bahrain was unlawful, and must be punished under Articles 64 and 111 of the laws relating to punishments, and Articles 2, 15, 28(1), and 28(2) of laws relating to Foreign Persons. On 14/5/2015, the judge confirmed that Sheikh Khojistah would be fined 100 BD and exile from the country.
“Sheikh Khojistah promptly paid the fine and appealed his case to Bahrain’s Higher Appeals Court, but on 21/2/2016, was summoned by the Department of Immigration, Passports, and Citizenship, to execute his deportation sentence. The one-month grace period afforded to appeals were not respected. He was then forcibly ejected from Bahrain and exiled to Lebanon, after being given a temporary one-time-use passport.”

Sheikh Khojistah has been targeted by the Bahraini authorities since 1995, where has was ejected from Bahrain for his political dissent in the nineties. In more detail, he was arrested on 13 January 1995, where has was detained for ten days and then forcibly deported from the country, though he returned to Bahrain in 2001. Khojistah proceeded to join the Islamic Scholars Council, and was voted into the administration of the council in January 2013. The council was closed down and dissolved by the Bahraini authorities on 16 June 2014, following the support of Bahrain’s appeals court.
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights can confirm, after following numerous cases of violations and sectarian abuses dished out by the Bahraini authorities against political activists, human rights defenders, and religious figures, that such a disturbing and dire situation continues to exist in Bahrain. Human rights violators are actively given immunity, citizens are forcibly exiled and ejected from Bahrain, proper civil and political rights are virtually non-existent, and human rights abusive and sectarian policies pave the way for more violations.
SALAM reaffirms that the international community, from the UN and its various bodies, including the UN Rights Council, to international human rights organizations, hold responsibility in activating all its powers and leverage to assist the Bahraini population in obtaining its internationally enshrined rights. As such, the Bahraini Government must be compelled into ceasing all actions resulting in revoking nationalities and deportation of Bahraini citizens from the country, and discontinue actions that withdraw or infringe Bahraini citizens’ basic rights.