16 April 2019 – Today, Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court handed prison sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment to 139 Bahraini nationals, of whom 138 were revoked of their citizenship and 69 were sentenced to life over terrorism-related charges, the Public Prosecution revealed. 30 defendants were acquitted. While 109 defendants are in custody, 60 were tried in absentia.
This is the largest single incident since the use of this new tool of repression began in 2012 and takes the current number of citizenship revocations in Bahrain to 990, 180 of which occurred in 2019 alone.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemns the outcome of this deeply unfair trial in the strongest possible terms and urges the authorities to quash the sentences and restore the citizenships.
Of the 139 individuals convicted, the court sentenced:
- 69 to life imprisonment
- 39 to 10 years
- 23 to 7 years
- 1 to 5 years
- 7 to 3 years
Of the 139 individuals convicted, 138 were also revoked of their citizenship. The court also imposed fines on 109 defendants. More specifically:
- 96 of them were fined BHD 100,000
- 12 were fined BHD 500
- 1 was fined BHD 231.8
The charges involved in the case the Public Prosecution refers to as “Hezbollah Bahrain” include:
- Forming a terrorist cell inside the country linked to Iran
- Launching terrorist attacks
- Possessing weapons without permission
- Training and using weapons and explosives
This is not the first incident where the Bahrain judiciary has held a mass trial to convict individuals on terrorism-related offences. In May 2018, 115 individuals were sentenced to prison and revoked of their citizenship.
Commenting, the Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, said “This ruling proves yet another time the corruption in Bahrain’s judiciary. A mass trial cannot produce a just result and rendering people stateless in a mass trial is a clear violation of international law. This is the worst verdict on record since 2012”.
Withdrawing nationality has become a growing tool of repression against critical voices in Bahrain. The power of citizenship revocation was officially formalised by the July 2014 Amendments to the 1963 Citizenship Law, which allowed the government to withdraw Bahraini citizenship from those who were charged on terrorist-related activities. Predominantly, this trend has affected political activists who have sought to speak out about human rights abuses in the country.
BIRD’s Records of citizenship revocation per year
- 180 in 2019
- 304 in 2018
- 156 in 2017
- 90 in 2016
- 208 in 2015
- 21 in 2014
- 31 in 2012