Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center

Here is How The Manipulation Of The UAE's Nationality Law Began

6 Dec 2021
متوفر باللغة

On December 4, 2011, just two days after the UAE celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Federation, a year that was supposed to indicate the beginning of a new era in the UAE, the UAE authorities issued a strange decision that violates the dignity and rights of its citizens.

The decision, bearing No. (1/2/7857), stipulated that the citizenship of each of the following individuals be revoked:

1. Hussein Munif Abdullah Hassan Al Jabri

2. Hassan Munif Abdullah Hassan Al-Jabri

3. Ibrahim Hassan Ali Hassan Al Marzouki

4. Shaheen Abdullah Malallah Haider Al Hosani

5. Ali Hussein Ahmed Ali Al Hammadi

6. Muhammad Abdul-Razzaq Muhammad Al-Siddiq Al-Obaidly

This decision constituted a full-fledged legal crime at the time - and still does today - not only because it contained a large number of violations of the law, but also because it represented the beginning of the approach to deprive political opponents of their citizenship and paved the way for a new era, which has been dubbed as the manipulation of the UAE Citizenship Law, as this law has undergone a large number of amendments after this incident.

What is the story of this decision, and what happened at the time? This report will reveal for the first time the full details of the issue of withdrawing nationalities, which has been called (The Seven Emiratis) case, and its serious violations.

On December 4, 2011, the UAE authorities announced the withdrawal of citizenship from six Emirati citizens, pursuant to a decree issued by the President of the State, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, due to "their actions that threaten national security."

The UAE authorities claimed at the time that these six were originally nationals of other countries, and that the competent authorities granted them the UAE citizenship by naturalization between 1976 and 1987, which later turned out to be incorrect, as none of them had a nationality other than the Emirati. In fact, the UAE authorities were originally offering them to obtain any another foreign nationality in exchange for giving up the UAE nationality.

Their acquisition of Emirati citizenship in the periods mentioned by the UAE authorities, does not mean that they are considered to have obtained citizenship by naturalization, as official documents show that the six had obtained citizenship by law, and not by virtue of the naturalization law, as the UAE authorities claim.

These facts prompted the six Emiratis, in addition to Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi, whose nationality was withdrawn earlier, to appoint lawyer Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken in order to appeal the decision and ask the Ministry of Interior to retrieve the identification papers.

On March 17, 2012, Al-Roken registered the case before the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance, where the appeal focused at that time on one legal point, which is "The UAE Nationality Law in Article 20 requires that citizenship be withdrawn by virtue of a decree issued by the President of the Federation or the Supreme Council after the approval of the Council. And this decree must be published after signing it in the official newspaper." Despite this, the Ministry of Interior stripped the seven citizens of their nationalities and identification papers without referring to this decree.

Despite Al-Roken's request to obtain a copy of the decree in all sessions of the case, the Ministry of Interior refused to provide him with it, and showed a copy of an administrative decision to strip them from thier citizenship, and it seems that the course of the case annoyed the Emirati authorities, who, after 10 days, submitted the appeal to the court, and before the start of the case hearings, the authorities arrested Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi on March 26, 2012, without an arrest warrant.

On April 9, the other six were summoned by the (Following Up Violators and Foreigners Department) at the Ministry of Interior in Abu Dhabi City, and they were surprised to sign a form (acknowledgment and undertaking) obligating them to "return to their original nationalities or obtain another nationality within a maximum period of two weeks, and in the event of a violation, They bear full responsibility before the competent authorities, and bear all the legal consequences arising therefrom."

The administration staff informed them that if the pledge was not signed, they would be arrested, and although there is a case before the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance to challenge the decision of withdrawing their citizenship, this did not prevent the UAE authorities from arresting and imprisoning them, and thus the seven applicants were arrested, after less than only a month after their appeal against the decision, in an attempt to force them to drop their appeal.

On May 31, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of First Instance rejected the lawsuit submitted by the seven, ruling that "it is not permissible to object to the procedures of the UAE Ministry of Interior to withdraw citizenship documents because it is an act of sovereignty."

But Al-Roken, in his capacity as a lawyer for the seven Emiratis, appealed the decision of the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance, for several reasons:

1. The acts of sovereignty are the decisions issued by the authority as a governing authority, not an administrative authority, such as decisions of wars, treaties, dismissal of the government and others. As for the confiscation of documents, it is a purely administrative decision that has nothing to do with sovereignty.

2. If we assume that the decision to withdraw citizenship is a sovereign decision, it must be based on the law, and the UAE authorities have not, to date, submitted any legal decision published in the ways approved by the Federal Nationality Law No. 17 of 1972.

However, the Emirati authorities, instead of responding to the law and the appeal request, proceeded to arrest Muhammad Al-Roken himself, on July 16, two weeks before the date of the first session of the Court of Appeal, which subsequently upheld the decision of the Court of First Instance on November 12, and the verdict was pronounced while the seven citizens and their lawyer are in secret prisons.

Perhaps this final scene of what happened summarizes everything, and gives a clear idea of the UAE authorities' view of the law, which has become a source of inconvenience to them, and therefore the UAE authorities were keen in the new legal amendments they made to the provisions of Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 regarding nationality and passports, to get rid of "all sources of inconvenience caused by the case of the seven Emiratis."

First: These amendments allowed the granting of citizenship or the withdrawal of citizenship from those who obtained it by naturalization by a decision of the Minister of Presidential Affairs, which is a serious amendment that makes Emirati citizenship similar to a job in a private company, granted and withdrawn by a decision of the Minister, without clear legal procedures.

Second: The amendments granted the decisions issued for naturalization or withdrawal, an immunity from appeal, as Article 14 bis stipulates that decisions to grant, withdraw or revoke citizenship may not be appealed.

This is in addition to many amendments that violate the principles of equality and allow the division of Emirati citizens into categories. At the beginning of this year, about 17 Emirati activists abroad issued a statement expressing their rejection of the UAE government's amendments, a statement that contains greater details about these amendments.