Geneva – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties condemned a judicial decision issued in Bahrain that 138 citizens be stripped of their nationality and sentenced to jail terms ranging from three years to life imprisonment for allegedly “founding and joining a terrorist group”.
The Geneva Council expressed its shock at the decision by the Bahrain Criminal Court in a mass trial of questionable impartiality against Shiite citizens, out of 169 people tried in the case, who were also accused of interfering with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Sixty-nine people were sentenced to life imprisonment, thirty-nine to 10 years in prison, while the rest were sentenced to between seven and three years of imprisonment, including one who was not stripped of his Bahraini nationality. Thirty defendants were acquitted in this trial.
The accused faced charges of establishing and joining a “terrorist group”, training in the use of weapons and explosives, financing a terrorist group, as well as other charges.
The Geneva Council said this was the largest group of convicts stripped of their nationality in a single trial since the start of prosecutions against Shiite dissidents after 2011 protests, which shows Bahraini authorities insistence to clearly violate international standards.
Last March, a Bahraini court handed down six to ten-year prison terms to 167 people arrested by the authorities in a sit-in outside the home of a top Shiite cleric in the kingdom in 2017.
The human rights Council noted that collective trials became commonplace in Bahrain following the 2011 uprising led by members of the Shiite majority, during which dozens were imprisoned including prominent opposition figures and human rights activists, many of whom fled the country. This comes amid complaints from Shiites in Bahrain that they are deprived of government jobs and services and are treated as second-class citizens in the kingdom.
According to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy statistics, the authorities in Bahrain have revoked since 2012 at least 738 citizenships- 232 in 2018 alone – through a process that lacked adequate legal safeguards and involved many jurists, political activists, journalists and religious scholars.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties affirmed that the citizenship stripping process by Bahraini authorities constitutes serious violation of international law and UN resolutions, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 15 of which states that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or of his right to enter his country.
The human rights Council called on Bahraini authorities to immediately reverse these arbitrary measures and respect their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Manama, as well as to respect human rights, including freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful opposition.
On the following link there are explanations on the right to nationality and statelessness on the website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the most important resolutions and relevant reports issued by the Human Rights Council since its establishment until the present day.