Equality Without Reservation Statement on women's Nationality rights in Jordan and Bahrain

Mon, 02/03/2014

We have noted two significant developments earlier this year in both Bahrain and Jordan, notably an attempt to reform nationality laws and bring some justice to women in their right to transmit nationality.
The Bahraini cabinet approved on 12 January 2014 a decision allowing Bahraini women married to non-nationals the right to transmit the Bahraini nationality with conditions that have yet to be communicated. The Cabinet also approved the referral of suggested revisions to selected clauses of the nationality law of 1963 to the Parliament according to Constitutional and legal procedures.

The Bahraini government stated that this proposed revision of the nationality law is in line with the national dialogue process currently taking place in the country and with the recommendation of the Human Rights Council, in addition to being harmonious with the spirit of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against and the vision of the Higher Council for Women.
During that same period, the Jordanian Prime Minister, Abdallah el Nussoor, agreed in Amman with a group of Parliamentarians to a disposition through which Jordanian government will provide the children of Jordanian women married to non-nationals with civil rights with the exception of political rights.

Equality without Reservation, a Coalition set up in Rabat in 2006, and including women’s rights organizations from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia and Bahrain would like to highlight these two important developments in both Jordan and Bahrain. However, the Coalition sees it necessary to have access to further information about the background of these decisions, the standards used and the mechanisms for implementation, before taking any firm position vis-à-vis these changes.

Nevertheless, and based on the information released in the Media, the Coalition would like to make a number of observations:

First, in the case of Jordan, and notwithstanding the nature of the facilities which will be enjoyed by non-national children of Jordanian women, we note that the approach still denies Jordanian women their right to full citizenship and to transmitting nationality. The Coalition perceives this as an attempt to bypass complying with that right because of alleged fears of demographic balance and of permanent resettlement of the Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

Second, and in the case of Bahrain, we are concerned based on available information that the right to transmit nationality may be constrained by conditions which have not been divulged yet. The Coalition fears that such a practice will create a new form of discrimination amongst Bahraini women especially since past track record in dealing with issues of citizenship in Bahrain has been largely unsatisfactory.
In the absence of detailed information as to what prompted both decisions, the Coalition hopes that these were not based on narrow considerations which are not related to women’s right to full and equal citizenship.

Third, the Coalition maintains that no considerations take primacy over women’s right to full and equal citizenship and calls on women, women organizations and civil society organizations in both countries to uphold the struggle for citizenship and equality and calls on women in all Arab countries to remain vigilant and take appropriate action to demand their rights.

As such, the Equality without Reservation Coalition will continue to work towards its objectives, namely lifting all reservations of CEDAW and the ratification of the CEDAW Optional Protocol as a tool for the implementation of the Convention and for challenging all forms of individual or collective violation of the rights of women. The Coalition is committed to mobilize and lobby for the harmonization of national laws in the Arab region with the stipulations of international conventions and in line with the principle of equality and active citizenship.

Equality without Reservation Coalition