The Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence against Women, in cooperation with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy office in Algeria, held a virtual session entitled: Nationality laws in Arab countries with the participation of speakers from (Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria and Morocco) on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.
The session was moderated by Her Excellency Rasmiya Al-Kaabneh, member of the Board of Trustees of the Arab Observatory for Human Rights in the Arab Parliament. She indicated that most Arab countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women “CEDAW” with reservations on some of its articles, including Article 9, which stipulates that Women have equal rights with men in terms of granting the nationality to their children.
From Algeria, Nawara Saadia Jaafar, a member of the Council of Nation, introduced the important amendments to the nationality law in Algeria, which stipulates that women can give the nationality to their children and husbands. She emphasized that the purpose behind the amendments was to keep pace with the development of the society, and to preserve what strengthens the national matrix of human rights, considering that nationality is a basic right. She emphasized that this is in line with the dynamic change that Algeria is witnessing at the present time aimed at building a new Algeria based on the rule of law and guaranteeing human rights and freedoms, according to what the President of the Republic committed to in his presidential program, which was actually translated into the constitutional amendments of November 1, 2020.
Also, from Algeria, Mr. Rachid Farah, Director General of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Ministry of Justice, briefed the audience on the amendments to the Nationality Law in Algeria. He stressed on the attention paid by the authorities In Algeria to the law, in a manner that guarantees the interests of citizens and consistent with respect for human rights.
From Lebanon, Dr. Gulnar Wakim, Gender and Evaluation Consultant and Associate Professor at the Lebanese University, indicated that the Nationality Law was inherited from France and has not been amended. She added that in Lebanon women can’t grant their nationality to their husbands and children, and she pointed out that the opponents sometimes go with the pretext that women might be exploited by their husbands to obtain Lebanese citizenship. She indicated that the children of Lebanese women face challenges in that they have to renew their papers every year, pay high fees, and suffer from complications in their daily lives.
Lawyer Nour Al-Imam, specialized in international conventions related to human rights, indicated that the Jordanian constitution treats Jordanians men and women equally in Article VI, and that the family is the cornerstone of society. She pointed out that children of Jordanian women still face challenges related to residency, education, work, investment, ownership, and issuing a driver’s license. She indicated that there were civil rights issued by the Prime Ministry in 2014 to children of Jordanian mothers married to non-Jordanians, as 16,000 identification cards were issued, and they were granted benefits related to rights that require residency in Jordan. She pointed out that according to the labor law amendments that were issued, children of Jordanian women were granted the right to work without a permit.
She referred to some recommendations related to the importance of amending the Nationality Law and taking some quick measures related to permanent residence and the right to public education, treating them equally in the field of health, owning money and allowing them to work and invest.
From Morocco, H.E. Hayat Boufrachan, former Deputy Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives spoke and indicated that women in Morocco grant citizenship to their children, but not to their husbands. She added that Chapter Six of the Nationality Law stipulates that every Moroccan child born to a Moroccan father or a Moroccan mother is considered Moroccan. She added that Chapter VII gives this right through the association of territory, meaning that it is considered a Moroccan who was born in Morocco to a Moroccan mother and a stateless father, or to a child born in Morocco to unknown parents, and to the abandoned child.
As a vivid experience of what women suffer in relation to the right of granting citizenship to their children, the session was hosted Mrs. Suad Habashneh, sister of the late Ni’ma Habashneh, coordinator of the “My mother is Jordanian and her nationality is my right” campaign in Jordan. She indicated that the campaign started with fifty women and reached 50,000 women, and indicated that Ni’ma participated in sit-ins and communicated with international and human rights organizations, but her illness prevented her from completing her career.