DUBAI: Human Rights Watch called on Bahrain yesterday to stop deporting citizens after stripping them of their nationality, two days before a hearing that could lead to the expulsion of another nine.

Since February 21, the Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority kingdom has deported five people after revoking their citizenship and leaving them stateless, the New York-based watchdog said.

Another nine risk the same fate if an appeals court on Tuesday upholds a 2012 ruling to rescind their nationality for allegedly causing "damage to security of the state".

"These unlawful deportations are ripping families apart and causing untold suffering," HRW's deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said.

"Bahrain should stop the deportations immediately and restore citizenship to those who have been left stateless, especially when this was done without justification or because they criticized their government."

One of the nine who risk deportation after Tuesday's appeals hearing, father of four Taimoor Karimi, told HRW he was concerned about being forced to another country away from his family and with no papers. "I am not a young man," he said. "This does not make sense."

In December, a Bahraini court ruled that the authorities need not provide "specific means of proof" when revoking the citizenship of nationals who "cause harm to the state" or fail in their "duty of loyalty," HRW said.

The tiny but strategic Gulf country, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet, has been wracked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding political reform in 2011. In 2015, Bahraini authorities stripped 208 Bahrainis of their citizenship, HRW said.-AFP