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Amnesty slams revocation of five citizens nationality Politically motivated: rights body

KUWAIT CITY, July 27: Amnesty Inter-national deplores the revocation this week by the Kuwaiti authorities of the nationality of five naturalized Kuwaitis and urges the government to reverse the decision, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily.

On July 21, 2014, the government issued a decree under the 1959 Nationality Law authorizing the withdrawal of the nationality of former parliamentarian Abdullah Hashr Al-Barghash, a government opponent, along with three members of his family, and Ahmad Jabr Al-Shimmari, the owner of the newspaper ‘Alam Alyawm and Alyawm satellite TV, ordered to be closed on July 22, for allegedly providing a platform to Abdullah Hashr Al-Barghash and other political government opponents.

Reasons

While there may be legitimate reasons for revoking nationality, following procedures meeting international standards of due process, Amnesty International is concerned the revocation of the nationality is politically motivated and a form of harassment to silence people who have either publicly expressed their opposition to the government or provided them with a platform to do so. By virtue of the 1959 Nationality Law, the government is empowered to deprive and restore the nationality of naturalized Kuwaitis by way of an administrative decision. Those affected cannot challenge the decision in court.

The government cited Article 13 of the Nationality Law to revoke the nationality of Ahmad Jabr Al-Shimmari which says the nationality can be revoked if “acquired by virtue of fraud” or if the naturalized person “is convicted or any honor related crime of honesty-related crime” within 15 years of naturalization, “is dismissed from public office on disciplinary grounds for reasons related to honor or honesty” within 10 years of naturalization or “has disseminated opinions which may tend seriously to undermine the economic or social structure of the State.”

The government stated that it revoked the nationality of Abdullah Hashr Al-Barghash and members of his family on the basis that they obtained it by way of fraudulent information and quoted Article 21 bis (a) of the Nationality Law.This Article provides for the revocation of nationality if “it appears to have been obtained by virtue of fraud or on the basis of a false declaration or on the basis of false evidence submitted by a witness.”

Renounce

Amnesty International does not know at this point whether any of those whose nationalities were revoked had any other nationalities prior to their Kuwaiti naturalization. However, Article 11 of the Nationality Law requires that anyone who acquires Kuwaiti nationality by naturalization to renounce any other nationality they may have. Accordingly, it appears that these individuals have been rendered stateless.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of nationality. Any deprivation of nationality which is based on an individual’s exercise of the right to freedom of expression, including peaceful political opposition activities, which cannot be challenged in the courts, and which results in their becoming stateless amounts to arbitrary deprivation of nationality and is prohibited under international law.

In July 2012, the UN Human Rights Council in Resolution 20/5 called upon all states “to refrain from taking discriminatory measures and from enacting or maintaining legislation that would arbitrarily deprive persons of their nationality on grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, especially if such measures and legislation render a person stateless.”

Amnesty International urges the government to overturn the decision made in these five cases and to end the practice of handing down administrative decrees revoking citizenship that cannot be challenged.

The government should initiate a review of all existing legislation relating to citizenship to ensure that it is in line with international standards in order to ensure due process.

More broadly, Amnesty International calls on the government of Kuwait, which is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to uphold the right of everyone in Kuwait to exercise their right to freedom of expression and association. 

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