Bahrain courts revoke citizenship of 33 people within three days

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SHAFAQNA – The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the government of Bahrain’s increasing use of citizenship revocation as a tool to punish political dissent, rendering many people stateless, thus leaving them vulnerable to human rights violations.

In 2016, BCHR documented the revocation of 30 citizenships by the criminal court, in addition to 12 revocation sentences being upheld by the court of appeal. Within the last three days of May 2016 alone, 33 citizens, including minors, have been rendered stateless by both primary and appeal courts as the Bahraini government’s judicial crackdown on dissidents intensified.

Following the 2011 pro-democracy uprising, the government of Bahrain introduced measures and laws to legalize citizenship revocation. In 2012, the citizenship of 31 individuals was revoked by a ministerial order. In 2014, the citizenship of 21 Bahraini citizens was revoked by court sentences. The number of citizenship revocations considerably increased in 2015, when  a ministerial order was issued to revoke the citizenship of 72 citizens. In the same year, the court ordered the revocation of citizenship of 136 defendants over politically motivated charges. In total, in the past four years, from 2012 to date, 309 Bahraini people were stripped of their citizenship.

In 2013, the government of Bahrain approved amendments to the law which allowed citizenship revocation by court order. Citizenship revocation by the court is facilitated by Bahrain’s national laws in two different Acts. First, the Citizenship Act (1963), particularly Article 10/c, allows the governor to revoke someone’s citizenship if they “harm the security of the state.” Second, the Anti-Terrorism Law (2006) includes a vague description of terrorist activities, which allows the authorities to interpret it as they wish, putting any dissident under the risk of being accused of terrorism. This implicit criminalization of dissent restricts people’s freedom of assembly, association, and expression. In August 2013, Bahrain’s parliament, authorized by the King, amended the Anti-Terrorism Law by adding revocation of citizenship as a new penalty, leading to arbitrary revocation of citizenships by court orders. This law allows for a prolonged period of pre-charged detention, during which detainees report they have been tortured to force them to confess to their alleged charges.

Detainees in these cases are allegedly victims of systematic use of torture, when courts regularly ignore investigation of their claims. Their right to due process is regularly violated, as they are arrested without warrants, often subjected to enforced disappearance in the initial period of their detention, are reportedly ill-treated and tortured, and generally do not have access to fair trials. Similar cases have been documented by BCHR in 2014, and 2015.

Statelessness makes people vulnerable to abuse, due to their lack of legal status, and therefore lack of protection by the law. Stateless persons have no legal status and cannot give power of attorney to lawyers to lodge appeals on their behalf. They are not able to formally own real estate. They are deprived from the benefits received by citizens including social allowance, housing application and access to free health services. They have difficulties in registration for education at schools and universities. They have issues getting a permanent job and they are unable to travel outside the small island of Bahrain. They are under daily threat of being deported out of the only country they ever knew. They have to be sponsored by an employer in order to continue living in Bahrain. With all the checkpoints around Bahrain, stateless persons always encounter difficulties when asked for their IDs at a checkpoint. Some of them said they are transferred to police stations and treated like criminals.

Children are affected directly by this policy of citizenship revocation, as well. They are affected directly as in the case of “Al-Ashtar Brigades,” when at the time of the alleged criminal activity, nine of the defendants who were sentenced were under the age of 18. But they are also affected indirectly as newborn children to a stateless father end up being stateless as well, especially because the discriminatory Bahraini law does not allow women to pass their nationality on to their children.

This arbitrary revocation of citizenship is a violation of international law. It is a violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “everyone has the right to a nationality,” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.” Arbitrary arrest that precedes citizenship revocation in these cases is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), particularly Article 9, para. 1 to 5. Depriving children of identification documents is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), particularly Article 7 para. 1, which states: “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.” In addition, arresting children arbitrarily is a violation of Article 37/b of the CRC, which states that: “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights calls on the government of Bahrain to:

  •     immediately and unconditionally release all political detainees who have been arbitrarily arrested for politically motivated charges;
  •     guarantee the right to a fair and impartial trial, as well as the right to legal counsel for all political prisoners in the Bahraini detention system;
  •     reinstate the nationality of all those whose citizenship was arbitrarily revoked on politically-motivated grounds since 2011;
  •     end the practice of the use of politically motivated terrorism charges to punish political dissent;
  •     end the use of citizenship revocation as a tool to punish political dissent;
  •     abide by international conventions to which Bahrain is a signatory;
  •     accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; and
  •     reform national law so it is aligned with international standards.

The following are cases of citizenship revocation by the primary and appeal court that occurred in 2016 as of the time of publishing:

Primary Court

1. On 15 March 2016, the Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced a defendant to 15 years’ imprisonment, citizenship revocation, and seizure of illegal items. He was convicted of the following charges: attempted murder, receiving training on use of weapons, and possession of weapons for terrorist purposes. The prosecution relied on hearsay evidence, which indicated that on 22 March 2015, the suspect allegedly shot at security forces, intending to kill them while they were doing their job in Sitra area, which resulted in the injury of one of them.

2. On 24 March 2016, the Fifth High Criminal Court revoked the citizenship of five defendants, and sentenced defendants 1 and 2 to 15 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of 100 Bahraini Dinars, after convicting them of joining a terrorist group. Defendants 3 to 5 were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, and confiscation of illegal items.

3. One 29 April 2016, the Bahraini Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced 30 defendants for their alleged involvement in bombings and gatherings in Diraz area during the year 2014. It found one defendant innocent, sentenced eight defendants to life imprisonment, and stripped one of them of his citizenship. The court also sentenced 20 defendants to five years’ imprisonment, and made one of them pay a fine of 3000 Bahraini Dinars. The last defendant was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, and was stripped of his citizenship; which leads to a total number of two citizenship revocations in this case.

4. On 30 May 2016, the Fourth High Criminal Court, sentenced ten suspects to life imprisonment for establishing “Al-Ashtar Brigades,” and two other suspects to ten years’ imprisonment for the same charge. It stripped all 12 of them of their citizenships. As for the last two suspects, the court found them innocent. The court also fined the first and second suspects with 200,000 Bahraini Dinars, and made eight suspects pay 11,900 Bahraini Dinars to the Ministry of Interior. In addition, the court issued an order to confiscate any illegal items the defendants possessed.

They were charged with the following: allegedly being involved in establishing and administering a terrorist group, joining it, executing bombings, manufacturing and possessing explosives, receiving training on using weapons and explosives, attempting to kill members of the police and violating their safety for terrorist purposes, gathering, rioting and possessing flammable material, and damaging money owned by others.

5. On 31 May 2016, the High Criminal Court sentenced 11 defendants involved in the case of Dar Kulaib. They were convicted of establishing a terrorist group, joining it, financing it, and possessing and manufacturing explosives for terrorist purposes. The court sentenced defendants 1 and 2 to life imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 Bahraini Dinars; defendants 3,4, 5, 9, and 10 to life imprisonment; defendants  6, 7, and 8 to five years’ imprisonment; defendant 11 (who was a minor at the time of the alleged crime) to three years’ imprisonment; and stripped all eleven defendants of their citizenships, besides confiscating illegal items that the defendants possessed.

Appeal Court:

1. On 26 February 2015, the High Criminal Court sentenced three defendants to death, seven to life imprisonment, and eight to citizen revocation for allegedly killing an officer and two policemen in Daih area. They were fined together with 929 Bahraini Dinars and 691 Fils. Illegal material possessed by the defendants were confiscated as well.

On 31 May 2016, the High Court of Appeal upheld the decision to sentence three defendants to death, and six others to life imprisonment for the same case. Defendants sentenced to citizenship revocation are: Ahmed Jaafar, Ali Al-Singace, Sami Mushaima, Abbas Al-Samea, Ali  Al-Samea, Taher  Al-Samea, Hussain Ahmed, and Redha Mushaima.

2. On 28 April 2016, the High Court of Appeal upheld the sentence of two defendants, 21 years old and 32 years old, to 10 years’ imprisonment and citizenship revocation, after convicting them of manufacturing and using weapons in military camps of Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. The court convicted the two defendants after it had evidence allegedly proving their involvement in criminal activity in February 2015. The court claims that the second defendant (32 years old) is a member of the Bahraini Hezbollah, which executed a number of terrorist operations against security forces. He was alleged to coordinate with others to recruit Bahrainis to send them to camps in Iraq, where they received training in manufacturing and using weapons and explosives, allegedly for terrorist purposes. He also supported them financially. This was how he was able to recruit the first defendant (21 years old), who is a university student in an Arab country. On 27 March 2015, the security forces arrested the student from the airport after he arrived in Bahrain.

3. On 29 May 2016, the court sentenced three defendants to life imprisonment and citizenship revocation for allegedly being spies with The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. The court claimed that defendants 4 and 5 (fugitives in Iran) and defendant 3 (detained) are suspects in several cases of terrorism and using explosives. They were convicted of recruiting Bahraini youth, including defendants 1 and 2, by facilitating their travel to Iran, to receive training in military camps of The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in manufacturing and using explosives and weapons. The purpose of their training was allegedly to involve them in acts that spread terror and chaos among citizens and residents, threaten their lives, destroy public property, and threaten security forces.

SL. Name Status Date of N. Rev. Reason Sentence Remarks
1 Raed Ali Hasan Huwrani Detained 22-Feb-16 Royal Decree Harming Bahrain Interests
2 Mohamed Ali Redha Hubail Detained 15-Mar-16 Primary Court Joining Terrorist Group
3 Mohamed Ali Saleh Kadhem Detained 24-Mar-16 Primary Court 15 Years Joining Terrorist Group
4 Husain Helal Ahmed Al Zaki Detained 24-Mar-16 Primary Court Joining Terrorist Group
5 Sadiq Khalil Ebrahim Al Haiki Detained 24-Mar-16 Primary Court Joining Terrorist Group
6 Ebrahim Ahmed Ahmed Abdulrasool Detained 24-Mar-16 Primary Court Joining Terrorist Group
7 Baqer Abdulnabi Marhoon Al Sari Detained 28-Apr-16 Primary Court Life Bomb & Gathering in Duraz
8 Redha Khalil Jaffer Detained 28-Apr-16 Primary Court 10 Years Bomb & Gathering in Duraz
9 Ahmed Yousif Jassim Sarhan Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
10 Jassim Ahmed Abdulla Ahmed Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
11 Fadhel Mohamed Ali Abdulhadi Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
12 Hussain Jaffer Abdulla Fadhil Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
13 Sayed Alawi Mohamed Jaber Al Wedaee Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court 10 Years Al Ashtar Brigades
14 Ahmed Mohamed Abdulla Mohamed Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
15 Abdulla Ali Abdulla Kadhim Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
16 Abbas Hasan Ahmed Saleh Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
17 Husain Mohamed Ali Abdulhadi Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
18 Abdulla Mohamed Abdulla Hussain Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court 10 Years Al Ashtar Brigades
19 Hasan Ali Mahdi Ahmed Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
20 Abdulla Hasan Abdulla Ebrahim Detained 30-May-16 Primary Court Life Al Ashtar Brigades
21 Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Al Sanady Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
22 Qasim Abdulla Ali Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
23 Mohamed Jaffer Moamen Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
24 Mohamed Ahmed Ali Ahmed Hussain Al Juboori Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
25 Ali Abdulredha Abdulla Esa Qroof Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
26 Jaffer Mohamed Ali Sultan Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
27 Sadiq Majeed Abdulraheem Thamer Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court Life Darkulaib Warehouse
28 Mohamed Abdulameer Ali Abdulla Thamer Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court 15 Years Darkulaib Warehouse
29 Jaffer Mohamed Ali Abdulla Thamer Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court 15 Years Darkulaib Warehouse
30 Dhia Mohamed Ali Al Hesabi Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court 15 Years Darkulaib Warehouse
31 Ahmed Esa Ahmed Ebrahim Detained 31-May-16 Primary Court 3 Years Darkulaib Warehouse
32 Ali Abdulshaheed Al-Singace Detained 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Death killing policemen in Daih bomb
33 Sami Mushaima Detained 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Death killing policemen in Daih bomb
34 Abbas Jameel Taher Al-Samea Detained 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Death killing policemen in Daih bomb
35 Ali Jameel Taher Al-Samea 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Life killing policemen in Daih bomb
36 Taher Yousif Ahmed Al-Samea 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Life killing policemen in Daih bomb
37 Hussain Ahmed 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Life killing policemen in Daih bomb
38 Redha Mushaima 26-Feb-15 Appeal Court Life killing policemen in Daih bomb
39 Jafar Jassim Majid Habib Detained 9-Nov-15 Appeal Court 10 Years Popular Mobilization Forces – Iraq
40 Ebrahim Mohammad Al-Farhood Outside Bahrain 9-Nov-15 Appeal Court 10 Years Popular Mobilization Forces – Iraq
41 Ahmed Al Sayed Hussein Sharaf Detained 5-Nov-15 Appeal Court Life Spy for Iran Revolutionary Guards
42 Ali Abdul Hussein Ali Ahmed Detained 5-Nov-15 Appeal Court Life Spy for Iran Revolutionary Guards
43 Fadhel Abbas Ali Isa Detained 5-Nov-15 Appeal Court Life Spy for Iran Revolutionary Guards

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