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|14 March, 2018

New law to impose hefty fine for defacing Bahraini passport

Scribbling, writing, colouring, tearing, sticking or stamping on a passport would be considered crime

Image used for illustrative purpose only. An anti-government protester holds up a passport as he protests against nationalisation, in front of the Bahrain Immigration Directorate in Manama March 9, 2011.

Image used for illustrative purpose only. An anti-government protester holds up a passport as he protests against nationalisation, in front of the Bahrain Immigration Directorate in Manama March 9, 2011.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Anyone defacing a Bahraini passport will be fined up to BD400 under an amendment to the 1975 Passports Law approved yesterday.

It was presented by the Interior Ministry and supported by parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and national security committee.

Scribbling, writing, colouring, tearing, sticking or stamping on a passport would be considered a crime.

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Yesterday’s session descended into chaos following heated debates, with parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla hitting the gavel several times to restore order, and shutting down several microphones.

Parliament foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Abdulla Bin Howail said the new rule doesn’t target a sect, religious tours, individuals or countries.

“We have received several passports as samples from the Interior Ministry containing stamps that don’t represent the country visited, while showing a food stall, shrine or mosque visited,” he said.

A ministry representative told MPs that the passport represented a person’s national identity and should be respected at all times.

MP Ali Al Ateesh said several Bahrainis have been targeted for visiting religious sites in Iraq and Iran.

“Several Bahrainis who went to religious shrines and mosques in Iraq and Iran, mostly elderly people and women, have been dragged to police stations either directly from Bahrain International Airport or from homes,” he said.

“People are just being humiliated because they visited Iran or Iraq while others are let off the hook despite having stamps or stickers for somewhere else.

“The rule doesn’t state who will get punished, the religious tour operators who put stickers to identify those travelling with them, or the owners of the passports, or those who stamp it without their knowledge in the country visited.”

Parliament and Shura Council Minister Ghanim Al Buainain said the government doesn’t use its authority extremely.

The amendment will be now reviewed by the Shura Council.

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