Human Rights Watch (HRW) today slammed the Bahraini government over deporting citizens after being arbitrarily stripped of their nationality.
"Bahraini authorities have deported eight stateless Bahrainis, whom they had previously stripped of their citizenship on 28 January 2018," HRW said.
The deportations followed an appeals court decision to uphold a 2012 ruling that ordered the deportation and stripping of citizenship of nine Bahraini nationals for "damaging state security."
"Bahraini authorities have dropped all pretense of pluralism and tolerance for dissent and are clearly stripping away the citizenships of people whom they find undesirable," HRW's Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson, said.
"Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future," Whitson added.
"By slapping human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, and religious scholars with arbitrary citizenship revocations and deportations, Bahraini authorities are reducing courts to rubber-stamps on their quest to stifle dissent completely," she noted.
The New York-based watchdog pointed out that the authorities had deported six of the stateless Bahrainis to the Iraqi city of Najaf, while the two others were deported to Iran.
Since 2012, the Bahraini authorities have stripped 578 nationals of their citizenship, leaving many stateless. On 31 January, the Fourth High Criminal Court stripped 47 people of their citizenship on terrorism related charges, while on 1 February the same court stripped another 27 people of their citizenship, according to the rights organisation.
"Bahrain should immediately put an end to these arbitrary deportations and restore citizenship to those who have been left stateless or whose citizenship was revoked unfairly or arbitrarily," the watchdog stressed.
Citing recent bomb attacks and shootings at Bahraini security forces over the past seven years, the Bahraini government says it faces threats from Iranian-backed militants. It has also accused Iran of backing the 2011 protests and attempting to overthrow the current administration.