موقع إخباري يهتم بفضائح و انتهاكات دولة الامارات

UAE Citizenship Stripping: Suppressing Civil Society and Dissenters

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Human rights organizations hosted an online legal symposium called “Withdrawal of Citizenship in the UAE: Silencing Civil Society and Opponents.”

The event aimed to highlight how UAE authorities use citizenship revocation as a means to suppress civil society and penalize political dissenters.

The symposium, organized by the UAE Detainees Advocacy Center in partnership with the “MENA” Human Rights Group, featured contributions from Emirati human rights activists and legal experts.

Alexandra Tarzikhan, a legal advisor at the American Bar Association, discussed the right to citizenship under international law, emphasizing that citizenship is a fundamental human right and that states cannot arbitrarily revoke it.

Zahra Al-Barazi, representing the Network of Stateless People in the Middle East and North Africa (Hawiati), pointed out that although states have the legal authority to revoke citizenship according to their national laws, this power is restricted by international human rights standards.

She stressed that countries must commit not to withdraw citizenship in arbitrary ways or without clear legal justification, and they must also provide fair legal procedures for people affected by decisions to withdraw citizenship.

Estelle Aleman, a legal researcher at the MENA Human Rights Group, examined the legal framework for citizenship in the UAE. She explained that Federal Law No. 17 of 1972, which was amended slightly in 2021, governs citizenship in the Emirates.

According to Aleman, UAE law distinguishes between two categories of citizens: original citizens by law and naturalized citizens. She emphasized that such differentiation between citizens contravenes international law.

Aleman also highlighted that Article 16 of this law permits UAE authorities to revoke the citizenship of any naturalized Emirati citizen found to be involved in activities threatening national security or the state’s supreme interests. Additionally, this article allows for the revocation of citizenship from the naturalized citizen’s spouse and children.

Aleman expressed concerns about the wide range of activities that could be considered “harmful to the vital interests of the state,” and that the concept of punishing those who are not even considered to have committed a crime is deeply troubling.

She noted that Article 16 lacks clarity in its wording, undermining legal certainty, and has previously been invoked to strip individuals of citizenship for merely expressing their views, as evidenced in the 2011 case involving the “Emirati Seven.”

Emirati activist Jinan Al Marzouqi, in response, shared her family’s firsthand experience with citizenship revocation, stating they started hearing rumors about citizenship being withdrawn from 30 Emirati families, primarily families of those detained in the “UAE 94” case.

Shortly afterward, they received notification via a phone call in 2016 that their citizenship had been revoked. They emphasized that UAE authorities did not provide them with any official documentation of this decision, making it challenging to prove their case or lodge an appeal.

Emirati activist Ahmed Al Nuaimi also addressed the negative effects on the lives of families and individuals whose nationalities were withdrawn in the UAE, pointing out that the decision to withdraw their nationality means a complete freeze on a person’s life, as he cannot obtain health care or education due to being stripped of his identification documents.

Al Nuaimi recounted the case of an Emirati family whose citizenship was revoked, disclosing that UAE authorities denied their newborn child a birth certificate due to the family lacking any identification documents following the citizenship withdrawal.

He also highlighted that UAE authorities not only violated the Constitution and laws in their actions but sometimes disregarded values and principles. In one instance, they reportedly pressured the wife of a detainee to file for divorce against her husband as a condition to renew her passport.