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Tue 8 Mar 2016 02:16 PM

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Bahrain citizen expulsions 'chilling', says Amnesty

Human rights group claims 14 Bahrainis have been stripped of citizenship in recent weeks in a breach international laws

Bahrain citizen expulsions 'chilling', says Amnesty

Human rights group Amnesty International has hit out against a sharp increase in the number of Bahrainis stripped of their citizenship and expelled from Bahrain.

The organisation claims Bahrain witnessed a tenfold increase in nationality revocations between 2014 and 2015, from 21 in 2014 to 208 last year.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, it said 11 people will face imminent expulsion on Wednesday if deportation orders are upheld in two separate appeal hearings, while two other people were ordered to leave the kingdom last month and a third order was issued on Monday.

If a person is stripped of their citizenship and ordered to leave the country, they become stateless – which according to Amnesty constitutes a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bahrain is a member, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

James Lynch, deputy director of the group’s Middle East and North Africa programme, said the apparent spike in expulsions is a “chilling way of silencing dissent.”

He said: “The increasing tendency to resort to expulsion of individuals who have had their nationality arbitrarily revoked is a chilling development that points to the wider erosion of human rights in Bahrain in recent years.

“Expulsion increasingly appears to be the Bahraini authorities’ weapon of choice when it comes to casting out ‘unwanted’ individuals and silencing dissent.

He called for an immediate reinstatement of citizens’ nationality. “Instead of depriving citizens of their rights by banishing them and forcing them to leave the country in violation of international law, Bahrain’s authorities must halt all planned expulsions, allow those already expelled to return and reinstate their nationality,” he said.

“They should also halt any revocation of nationality that would render an individual stateless.”

On Monday, a Bahraini court ordered the deportation of Masaud Jahromi, a university lecturer who is one of a group of 72 Bahrainis stripped of their nationality in January 2015 for their involvement “illegal acts”, including advocating for “regime change” and defaming “brotherly countries”, Amnesty noted.

He would be the third member of the group of 72 to be deported in two weeks, following the reported expulsion of Shi’a cleric Muhamad Hassan Ali Hussain Khojasta and Hussain KhairAllah Mohamed Mahmood to Lebanon in February.

On Wednesday, at least one more person from the same group of 72 will be at risk of being expelled if their deportation order is upheld, Amnesty added, while a separate appeal hearing will take place on the same day to contest a deportation order for 10 other Bahrainis from a group of 31 people who had their nationality revoked by the Ministry of Interior for “harming state security” in November 2012.

Lynch said: “Arbitrarily stripping citizens of their nationality on the basis of vague allegations is an outrageous breach of Bahrain’s international human rights obligations.

“It is shocking that citizens of Bahrain are being rendered stateless and being deprived of the right to reside in their own country.”

Amnesty International added in a statement on its website: “Amnesty International is gravely concerned at the deportation by Bahrain on 21 February of a Bahraini citizen and the confirmation of a deportation order by an appeals court today of another Bahraini citizen, both of whom had their nationality revoked on 31 January 2015.

“The organisation urges the Bahraini authorities to halt any planned deportations of Bahrainis, allow those who have been deported to return to Bahrain, and to stop any revocation of nationality that would render an individual stateless.”

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