Bahrain to crack down on rogue employers
Manama , March 17, 2008
Rogue employers who exploit foreign workers in Bahrain could be prosecuted as human traffickers and police are ready to tackle traffickers "head-on" to stamp out the menace, it was declared.
Exploiting cheap labour is punishable under a new law passed in Bahrain in January this year, said London-based International Organisation of Migration (IOM) training curriculum designer Peter Bryant.
"People from the world's poorer countries, hired to work as labour in Bahrain and the other parts of the Gulf are often lured by promises of a lucrative pay and good working conditions, but when they arrive, they find that is not quite the case."
Bahrain is adequately prepared and determined to stamp out the menace, Inspector General in the Interior Minister's office Brigadier Ebrahim Al Ghaith told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"We are working closely with other agencies, particularly the ministries of Labour, Social Development and immigration authorities, and have even formed a separate directorate under the CID to work on it," he said.
"There is a very serious effort to develop human rights in Bahrain and our fight against traffickers is part of that initiative.
"In addition to addressing problems involving labourers, we are also concentrating on trafficking in women for sex and to work as housemaids as well as children as carriers of drugs and narcotics."
"The battle is hard and there are several obstacles, but we shall overcome them. We are prepared for the worst."
Brig Al Ghaith was speaking on the sidelines of a workshop to provide specialist training to law enforcement officers on how to handle trafficking victims and traffickers, at the Intercontinental Regency Hotel.
The four-day event, opened by Interior Ministry Under-Secretary Major General Farook Salman Al Mo'awda, is being attended by Interior Ministry officers and officials from the Labour, Education, Social Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries. Bahrain resident co-ordinator for the UN, Sayed Aqa was also present.
Bryant, who is conducting the workshop, said many of the employers hire people on promises of high wages and pay them a pittance for long hours of work and put them up in unhygienic conditions, according to reports received by the IOM.
"This will strictly translate to trafficking, although there may be differences in interpretation," he said.
The new law, ratified by His Majesty King Hamad on January 9, is designed to stop the illegal movement of people across international borders for sex trade and other forms of forced and indentured labour.
According to the law, taking advantage includes using people for prostitution or any form of sexual exploitation or assault, forced labour, slavery and practices similar to them and removal of organs.
The recruitment, transport, relocation, shelter or reception of those under the age of 18 or those who are not in a state in which their consent or will is acknowledged are all considered forms of human trafficking.
Legal entities convicted of human trafficking are fined from BD10,000 to BD100,000 ($26,466 to $264,665) under the law and those working for such an entity will also be penalised.
Bryant said whenever people are exploited, it is trafficking and cheap labour are of the most striking examples.
"The problem is here in Bahrain, which is also on a US government watch list of one of the countries not doing enough to get rid of the menace. But to what extent it is prevalent is difficult to say," he said.
The same could be said for women who are allegedly engaged in the sex trade in Bahrain, he added.
"Most of these women are victims and they have to be identified and dealt with," he said.
Bryant said that this was a very serious problem in this part of the world, but the situation is now improving with the governments becoming more and more pro