Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Bahraini regime to repeal laws that allow revoking the nationalities of dissidents after a court stripped nine Shia activists of their citizenship.
“Bahrain should repeal laws that will allow authorities to strip Bahrainis of their nationalities on grounds so vague as to be arbitrary,” the international rights group said in a statement on Thursday.
The statement came after a Bahraini court stripped the citizenship of nine men after they were convicted of “forming a terrorist organization aimed at smuggling weapons to Bahrain and helping detainees to escape.” The nine were also received jail terms ranging from five to 15 years.
According to the New York-based group, ten other Shias, whose nationalities were revoked in 2012, are facing jail terms or deportation from the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
The ten are among 31 Shias whose citizenships were stropped two years ago for “undermining state security” in the country. They were never brought to court. Twenty-one of them have left Bahrain.
The HRW called on Manama to “immediately restore the citizenship rights of the 10 people who face deportation and of the 21 others whose citizenship rights were removed without due process.”
The group also noted that “They have no residence permits and face charges of violating asylum and immigration laws,” saying the authorities have begun summonsing them over such violations.
“The Bahraini government seems hell-bent on finding ever new and more pernicious ways to penalize its critics and suppress calls for change,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, an HRW director.