Bahrain: Halt deportation of individuals arbitrarily stripped of nationality

A decision by a court in Bahrain today to deport 10 people who have been stripped of their Bahraini nationality must be quashed, said Amnesty International.

The 10 are among 31 people whose nationality was arbitrarily revoked in November 2012. In addition to their deportation, the court also ordered they pay 100 Bahraini dinars (approximately US$ 250).

The men, who have been considered foreigners in the country since their nationality was revoked, were told they could be deported within days. They have not been given any details of where they will be sent.

“Arbitrarily depriving these Bahrainis of their nationality and forcing them out of Bahrain renders them 'stateless' and goes contrary to Bahrain’s international obligations,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

“They have already been effectively stripped of basic rights such as access to work, health care and education simply for holding dissenting views and deporting them just adds insult to injury.”

In November 2012, the Ministry of Interior said the decision to revoke the nationality of the 31 people had been taken under the Bahrain Citizenship Law, under which the nationality of a person can be revoked if he or she causes harm to state security.

However, no explanation was given to any of the 31 in the group as to what threat they posed. Twenty of the 31 affected live abroad and they include two former members of parliament, as well as activists and clerics.

“The Bahraini authorities are running out of arguments to justify repression. They are now resorting to extreme measures such as jail sentences and revoking nationality to quell dissent in the country, rather than allowing people to peacefully express their views,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

The opaqueness of the decision to deprive the group of their nationality renders judicial proceedings against them arbitrary and unfair.

In August 2014, trials started against the 31 on charges of illegally staying in the country.

New amendments to legislation in Bahrain broaden the reasons for which an individual can have his or her nationality revoked. These now include anyone whose “acts contravene his duty of loyalty to the Kingdom”, those who take up another nationality without prior permission from the Ministry of Interior and individuals convicted of vaguely worded terrorism offences.