In the years since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, which began on 14 February 2011, the stripping of citizenship has emerged as one of the most disturbing methods used to silence dissent. The first exercise of this power was in November 2012, when the Minister of Interior revoked the nationality of 31 opposition activists, ex-MPs and members of civil society. Many of them were rendered stateless, and in 2014 ten of them were ordered for deportation.
Since then, the Minister of Interior’s powers have been formalised and the criminal courts have also been empowered to strip citizenship, under July 2014 amendments to the 1963 Citizenship Law. Persons can be stripped of citizenship for being security threats and if found “guilty” on terrorism charges. Bahrain’s unfair trial system, which relies heavily on confessions, lends itself to torture, the practice of which remains systematic.
As of February 2016, 260 persons have had their citizenship stripped. 208 of them lost their citizenship in 2015 alone. The majority of them will have been rendered stateless. Those made stateless can no longer renew their national ID cards. They cannot be legally employed, or registered in hospitals. They cannot renew their banking information and may be at risk of losing government-provided housing. Ten of the Bahrainis stripped of citizenship in 2012 were found guilty of illegal residency in 2014 and ordered to leave the country.
In 2014, the criminal courts exercised their new powers a few times, but it was in 2015 that the punishment became a common occurrence. The first and fourth criminal courts revoked the nationalities of 134 defendants in ten criminal cases. The largest such case, on 11 June 2015, saw 56 persons stripped of citizenship. November 2015 witnessed the heaviest court activity, with four separate case in which 31 persons were stripped of citizenship. Five persons stripped of citizenship were also sentenced to death.
In January 2015, the Minister of Interior exercised his powers again and revoked the nationality of 72 people. This remains the single largest act of its kind to date. Approximately 50 of those stripped of citizenship were from Bahrain’s civil society, many of them exiles, and included human rights activists, journalists, political activists and religious figures. Sending a deeply troubling message, the remainder, approximately 20 individuals, are known or suspected members of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. To the Government of Bahrain, peaceful civil society is equated to terrorism.
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... Read more
20 February 2019 – Yesterday, Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court issued prison sentences against 39 defendants and stripped 25 of those individuals of their citizenship across three... Read more
7 February 2019 – Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court issued prison sentences against 11 individuals, including female political activist Zakeya AlBarboori, and stripped them of their... Read more
29 November 2018 – Today, Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced two individuals to death on alleged terrorism-related charges, and sentenced three others to between seven year... Read more
12 November 2018 – Today, Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced four individuals to death on charges related to terrorism, three of them being tried in absentia. The charges r... Read more
15 October 2018 – The Fourth High Criminal Court handed prison sentences to seven Bahraini nationals and revoked the citizenship of six over terrorism charges related to the bombing of... Read more
9 July 2018 – Today, Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, arrived in London to receive medical treatment. He landed at 3:31pm at Heathrow Airport from Bah... Read more
21 May 2018 – Today, Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court handed prison sentences to 10 Bahraini nationals and revoked 9 of them of their citizenship over terrorism-related charges acc... Read more
15 May 2018 – Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court handed prison sentences to 115 Bahraini nationals and revoked their citizenship over terrorism-related charges, Al-Ayam revealed toda... Read more
Ahead of the trial of Sheikh Isa Qassim on Sunday 7 May 2017, BIRD and five other NGOs wrote today to the United Kingdom, European Union, United States and United Nations calling for urgent... Read more