Coup uses nationality to silence dissidents – the portal to freedom and justice

Human Rights Watch called on the military coup government to reverse its arbitrary decision it took in December 2020 to withdraw the nationality of political activist Ghada Naguib, calling on the Military Parliament to amend the abusive nationality laws to comply with Egypt’s international human rights obligations.

On December 24, 2020, the Egyptian Official Gazette published the coup government’s decision, signed by Mostafa Madbouly, to strip political activist Ghada Naguib of her Egyptian nationality, based on Law No. 26 of 1975, which gives the government the power to do so without judicial review.

“The Sisi’s government’s decision to revoke citizenship from Ghada Najib is a shocking and dangerous precedent,” said Joe Stork, deputy executive director of Middle East and North Africa Monitoring at Human Rights Watch. “The Sisi government is descending to a new low in punishing dissent.”

“It seems that the Sisi government is intent on stripping most of those born to Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers of nationality, thereby discriminating against women and their children,” Stork added, calling on the coup authorities to immediately restore Ghada Najib’s nationality and stop using the nationality issue as a weapon to silence political critics.

The international organization indicated that Ghada Naguib, 49, is a political activist who has lived in Turkey since late 2015 with her family, and Law No. 26 of 1975 regarding Egyptian nationality is subject to abuse because it gives the authorities great discretionary power, without legal oversight or judicial review, to divest Egyptians Of their nationality.

Revoking citizenship

Under Article 16, the prime minister can strip any person, whether Egyptian or naturalized, of his Egyptian nationality for several reasons, including if he “maintains a normal (permanent) residence abroad and is convicted of a felony that harms the security of the state from abroad.” That paragraph was mentioned in the decree. The government is against “Ghada,” and Article 15 of the same law grants the government broader powers to strip the nationality of those who acquired nationality through naturalization.

The government decision indicates that “Ghada” was born in Cairo, but she falsely claims that she was “originally Syrian.” Ghada Naguib participated in “Human Rights Watch” in identity documents and schools confirming that she was born in Cairo, where she grew up and went to school, and lived most of Her life is in Egypt, and she has never lived in Syria. She was born to an Egyptian mother and a Syrian father, but she only had an Egyptian passport.

The coup government and pro-Sisi media have repeatedly targeted Ghada Naguib and her husband Hisham Abdullah, an Egyptian actor and TV presenter, because of their opposition activities since late 2013, and Human Rights Watch previously documented the coup government harassment, intimidation, and arrest of members of their families in Egypt in July and August 2018.

In January 2019, the Giza Criminal Court in the cases of “terrorism” and “state security” sentenced “Ghada” and “Hisham” to five years in prison, in absentia, on charges of joining an illegal organization and spreading false news to undermine national security.

Human Rights Watch reviewed the court ruling, which shows that the entire case was based on allegations by National Security officers about the peaceful political activities of the defendants, and security officers accused the spouses of plotting to overthrow the government through media, politics and human rights work, and these charges violate basic rights, including Freedom of association and freedom of expression. Court convictions should be rescinded, Human Rights Watch said.

In mid-December 2020, the coup security forces arrested five sons of Hisham Abdullah’s brother from the governorates of Marsa Matruh and Kafr El-Sheikh, and they were forcibly disappeared for two days on December 23, and the State Security Prosecution ordered the detention of all five detainees pending investigation of accusations of joining and financing a terrorist organization. Human Rights Watch has seen an escalating pattern of the coup government harassing, arresting, and prosecuting relatives of dissidents abroad.

“Ghada” said that she was not able to hire a lawyer immediately to appeal the decision of the coup government, and that the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul had repeatedly refused to provide her with consular services.

A method of hitting

Since 2014, the coup government has resorted to Article 15 of the Nationality Law to strip hundreds of Egyptian nationalities, most of them born to Palestinian fathers and Egyptian and naturalized mothers, and in 2004, the coup authorities amended the nationality law to address discrimination against women by allowing children born to Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers to grant Egyptian nationality is the same as the children of Egyptian men. Those born before the 2004 amendment had to apply for citizenship, which the Ministry of Interior has regularly rejected.

In the aftermath of the January 2011 revolution, the government granted many of these persons Egyptian nationality, but after the military coup in 2013, the government stripped the nationalities of many naturalized persons in 2011 and 2012, in addition, the government stripped Egyptians born in Egypt of Egyptian parents of their nationality. Especially Egyptian men and women married to Palestinians, Israelis, or Palestinian Israelis.

The organization affirmed that Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “no person shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality,” affirming that Egyptian nationality laws contradict international law regarding the right to nationality, and the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also binds. States in Article 5 to “guarantee the right of every person, without distinction of race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law,” particularly to enjoy basic human rights, including the “right to a nationality.” The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women also calls on states to grant women equal rights with men regarding the nationality of their children.

The organization noted that the United Nations Convention on Reducing Statelessness goes further in Article 9, which states that “Governments may not deprive any person or group of persons of their nationality for racial, ethnic, religious or political reasons.” The United Nations Human Rights Council has said in several resolutions that arbitrary deprivation of nationality, including on political grounds, is a “violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms” and that governments are using it to deny people basic human rights.

Source: بوابة الحرية والعدالة by

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