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Monday Feb. 1, 2010 8:26 PM (EST+7)
HRW urges Jordan to stop revoking citizenships

Read more: Human Rights Watch, Jordan, Palestinian-Jordanian, citizenship

AMMAN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch called on Jordan on Monday to stop stripping its citizens of Palestinian origin of their nationality, saying that thousands were threatened by arbitrary steps that deprived them of basic civil rights.

The New York-based lobby group said that between 2004 and 2008 alone more than 2,700 of Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin had been victims of random administrative moves taken without warning, in violation of the country's nationality law.

Jordan is playing politics with the basic rights of thousands of its citizens, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement released on the launch of the 60-page report in Amman.

Officials are denying entire families the ability to lead normal lives with the sense of security that most citizens of a country take for granted, she added.

Those deprived of their nationality cannot own property, have access to education or take part in public life, HRW said in its report titled Stateless Again: Palestinian-origin Jordanians deprived of their nationality.

Jordanians of Palestinian origin who settled after the creation of Israel in 1948 have become a majority in the country of over 6 million.

Most vulnerable were over 250,000 citizens expelled by Kuwait for perceived sympathy with Iraq's invasion in 1990, who were now at risk of losing their nationality, Christoph Wilcke, senior researcher at HRW, told reporters.

Jordanians of Palestinian origin who are stripped of their nationality become stateless, in many cases for a second time after 1948, the rights group said.

It said the revocation of citizenship was based on an arbitrary interpretation of Jordan's decision to sever legal and administrative ties with the West Bank, which was part of the kingdom until captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Their citizenships were revoked without warning during routine dealings with the bureaucracy, with no administrative or judicial channels to contest their loss of nationality, he said.

A Jordanian interior ministry official dismissed the report.

These accusations that Jordan is revoking citizenships in an arbitrary manner are totally baseless and unfair... Adel Al-Hadid told Reuters.

A bigger future political role for Jordanians of Palestinian origin has stirred fears by mainly indigenous tribal Jordanians that they will permanently settle in the kingdom regardless of the fate of the Arab-Israel conflict.

They say a wider political role for Palestinians will only serve Israel's interests where many right wing voices clamour to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem at Jordan's expense by forcing on their permanent settlement in the kingdom.

Human Rights Watch urged the appointment of an investigative commission to reinstate nationality to those arbitrarily deprived of it with fair compensation. (Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; editing by Jon Boyle)






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