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 today. This takes the current number of citizenship revocations in Bahrain to 719 since the use of this new tool of repression began in 2012, an unprecedented 213 of which have occurred in 2018 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.
The 115 defendants are accused of forming a terrorist organisation, and in addition of being stripped of their citizenship, were issued harsh prison sentences ranging from a minimum of 3 years to life imprisonment. The Court sentenced:
- 53 defendants to life imprisonment
- 3 defendants to 15 years imprisonment
- 1 defendants to 10 years imprisonment
- 15 defendants to 7 years imprisonment
- 37 defendants to 5 years imprisonment
- 6 defendants to 3 years imprisonment
- (23 defendants were acquitted)
Commenting on the sentences, BIRD’s Advocacy Director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said: “This outrageously harsh sentence is setting a new level of injustice in Bahrain. Rendering people stateless in a mass trial is a clear violation of international law. This is the worst verdict on the record since draconian citizenship law passed in 2014”.
He further stated: “This is a court of injustice. Judges rubber-stamp the state’s harsh punishments against political dissidents, based on evidence usually obtained under torture and in severe violation of due process. Bahrain’s rulers are allowed to escalate the growing clampdown on human rights, as in the so-called ‘Brexit and Trump era’, the US and the UK continue to show no appetite for holding their abusive partners to account.”
Withdrawing nationality has become a growing tool of repression against critical voices in Bahrain. According to BIRD’s documentation, there have been 719 cases in which the citizenship of a Bahraini national has been revoked by the government since 2012. 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.
Records of citizenship revocation per year
- 213 in 2018
- 156 in 2017
- 90 in 2016
- 208 in 2015
- 21 in 2014
- 31 in 2012