Bahrain offers 'amnesty' to illegal workers
Manama, May 26, 2010
Labour and immigration authorities in Bahrain have launched a joint campaign to offer illegal workers in the kingdom a chance to leave without penalties.
The 'pardon' campaign is being carried out by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and the General Directorate for Nationality, Passport and Residence (GDNPR).
It targets thousands of workers, including housemaids and other domestic workers as well as visitors who have overstayed their visas.
'Though there will be no penalties and no questions will be asked, there will be a fee of BD15 per worker and BD25 per visitor,' said LMRA chief executive Ali Radhi.
He was speaking at a Press conference attended by Interior Ministry assistant under-secretary for GDNPR Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa at the LMRA premises in Sanabis.
'The campaign was not an amnesty to rectify illegal residence permit status, but a pardon from the penalties accumulated,' said Radhi.
'It is being carried out only to facilitate the voluntary departure of illegal workers from the country. We are not sure yet how long it will continue, it depends on the response we get.
'The idea is to help as many people as possible to leave, who will be dealt in a humanitarian way.
'They will be given all assistance, but if they are caught during LMRA inspections, they will face the full force of the law.'
Radhi said the drive is being carried out in line with the directives of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander.
It is also with the support of Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, he added.
'All those who wish to take advantage of this campaign should contact either the LMRA or GDNPR,' said Radhi.
'Alternatively, they could also contact their respective embassies, who are co-operating with us.'
He said the campaign was in line with efforts to combat the phenomenon of illegal workers in Bahrain.
'This initiative will be followed by a stringent inspection campaign by the LMRA and will, in particular, focus on expatriate street vendors.'
Radhi called on residents and citizens as well as employers to co-operate in efforts to regulate the labour market by not dealing with illegal expatriate workers and to encourage them to make use of the opportunity.
Shaikh Ahmed said the decision of the pardon from fees and penalties was in line with the directives of HRH Prince Salman to eradicate the problem in co-ordination with the LMRA.
'We wish to offer all illegal residents an honourable exit and do not want them to be trapped,' he said.
'There will, however, be a procedure in place to ensure no one who is already facing the law in any case is allowed to leave.
'The entire campaign is being conducted with the co-ordination of the Public Prosecution, the Justice and Interior ministries and the relevant embassies.'-TradeArabia News Service