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Bahrain Will Face in Near Future Many Problems of Its Own Making, Amnesty’s Davin Kenney

Bahraini Women Protesting HR Violations (Archive)
Bahraini Women Protesting HR Violations (Archive)

2018-10-03 - 1:17 am

Bahrain Mirror: International mechanisms have not done much to address deprivation of citizenship in Bahrain, said Davin Kenney, Amnesty International's Gulf researcher.

Kenney further noted during his participation in an event organized by SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights that UN "bodies have, appropriately enough, expressed criticism and concern. However, these bodies are nowhere even close to having a mandate to do something like awarding nationality to those who don't have it."

As for domestic mechanisms, meaning Bahrain, he said "they have done nothing to address the problem as they are themselves the source of the problem." He also highlighted that the best-known discussion about how to resolve statelessness domestically in the Arab Gulf comes from the case of the bidūnof Kuwait, which is a self-inherited problem from the days of state formation. Kenney then pointed out that in Bahrain, "you have a very different situation in that a state that had a native population whose nationality was settled is now creating for itself a new bidūnproblem, by fairly large-scale denaturalization of native-born Bahrainis.

The Gulf expert went on to say that Bahrain has actually had aggressive options for denaturalization in its legislation since even before independence. The Nationality Law of 1963 allowed the King to strip Bahraini nationality from those who took a second nationality or from anyone "help[ing] ... an enemy country" or "causing damage to state security."  He explained that these provisions were procedurally updated, and the state-security one was made even looser, by amendments to the Nationality Law in 2014, so that now the threat of royal denaturalization applies to anyone who "causes damage to the interests of the Kingdom or engages in behavior contrary to his duty of loyalty." In addition, in a 2013 amendment to its counterterrorism law, Bahrain allowed its courts to denaturalize people for, among other things, "incit[ing] another to commit a crime in execution of a terrorist purpose, even if no effect results from his action."  

Kenney then noted that Bahrain's definition of "terrorism" is so loose that this can mean anyone encouraging others to protest.

He also stressed that the total number of those denaturalized, per Amnesty's tracking, is now in the upper hundreds. "Our exact count is 742 since 2012, and Amnesty has tracked 255 people who have been stripped of their nationality so far this year," he said, adding that they "don't have an exact sectarian breakdown but it's clear that the vast majority of those denaturalized are Shia.  Since the total citizen population is over 700,000, this is not a large enough number to substantially affect the demographic balance, but it is enough to create a major human-rights crisis for the group affected."

Kenney said it's easy to state that Bahrain's policy of denaturalization is not adhering to the international standard in any way. "Almost all those denaturalized are now stateless, and the primary function of denaturalization in Bahrain is as a tool for suppression of dissent, especially public protest, which is of course totally illegitimate under international law."

Concluding his statements, Kenney said that "prior to 2011 we could say that Bahrain was one of the Arab Gulf countries that did not have a notable bidūnproblem, it seems likely that in the years to come Bahrain will have a substantial and growing problem of statelessness which is entirely of its own making."


Arabic Version



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