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UN human rights office concerned about Bahrain’s toughened anti-terrorism law

Protesters in Manama, Bahrain.
Al Jazeera English
Protesters in Manama, Bahrain.

UN human rights office concerned about Bahrain’s toughened anti-terrorism law

The United Nations human rights office today said it is concerned about a recommendation to toughen punishments in Bahrain, including revoking the citizenship of anyone convicted of terrorist offenses.

“We reiterate that the right to nationality is a fundamental right protected by article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her nationality,” Cécile Pouilly, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told journalists in Geneva.

She added that deprivation of nationality provided for by law had to comply with procedural and substantive standards, including the principle of proportionality.

OHCHR is also concerned that arbitrary deprivation of nationality could lead to statelessness with serious consequences for the protection of the human rights of the individuals concerned.

“While recognizing the responsibility of States to maintain law and order, we remind the authorities that any measure should respect international human rights standards,” said Ms. Pouilly.

The Bahraini parliament, known as the National Assembly, recently met to discuss the revisions, supported by a royal decree on 31 July, to the 2006 Law on the Protection of Society from Acts of Terrorism.

The recommendations include increasing the detention period or revoking the citizenship of anyone found guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism. They also provide for banning sit-ins, rallies and gatherings in the capital, Manama.

OHCHR said that although it welcomes the Parliament’s recommendation that “basic liberties, particularly freedom of opinion, should not be affected to maintain a balance between law enforcement and human rights protection,” it reiterates its concern about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings.

“We call upon the Government of Bahrain to fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and association, and urge all demonstrators to exercise these rights in a peaceful manner,” the spokesperson said.

The UN has repeatedly called for dialogue among all parties in Bahrain since civil unrest, including clashes between security forces and demonstrators broke out in early 2011, when widespread protests first emerged in the country.