An international human rights group has called on Bahraini authorities to rescind a decision to strip citizenship from 31 people for allegedly damaging the country’s security.
US-based Human Rights Watch said the people affected included opposition political activists, lawyers, and rights activists.
The order was imposed without due process of law and will leave the majority of the people affected stateless, it added in a statement.
On Tuesday,the Interior Ministry issued a statement revoking the citizenship of the 31 people under article 10(3) of the Bahraini Citizenship Act of 1963 because they were “damaging the security of the state.”
Article 10 provides that “the ruler” has the authority to revoke a person’s citizenship.
“The Bahrain government’s summary decision to deprive 31 people of citizenship seems to completely disregard their basic rights,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“There is no justification for equating political dissent with damaging Bahrain’s security.”
He added that revoking citizenship without due process violates the rights of Bahraini nationals under international law.
The Interior Ministry order affects former members of parliament, lawyers, activists, and religious clerics.
At least 10 of them have lived outside of Bahrain for years. Defence lawyers and rights activists told Human Rights Watch that of the 31 only about six have other citizenship, and that the ministerial decision will make most of the people involved stateless.
Taimoor Karimi, a lawyer whose citizenship was revoked, told Human Rights Watch that he only found out about the decision from the media.
“I was not aware of any legal action taken against me and I have not been formally notified of the decision,” he said.
Karimi said he had last been arrested on March 31, 2011 and he spent nearly six months in jail on charges of “spreading false news” and “participating in illegal gathering.”
In January a minor criminal court sentenced him to four months in prison for participating in an “illegal gathering.” His case is being reviewed by the court of cassation.
The Interior Ministry statement said that “the affected persons have the right of appeal.”
“Bahraini authorities have been increasingly targeting opposition activists and this decision takes it to a new level,” Stork said.
“The government should immediately rescind this decision, which denies people a fundamental connection to their own society.”For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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