Bahrain drive to target rogue sponsors
Manama, December 9, 2010
Rogue employers, who withhold passports, mistreat workers or do not pay them regularly, will be targeted under a new nationwide campaign, a top Bahrain government official has said.
It may include a 'door-to-door' drive aimed at exposing such employers or sponsors, said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nazar Al Baharna.
'Several government agencies will co-ordinate in the drive that could involve inspectors visiting organisations and talking to employees and employers,' he said.
Dr Al Baharna was speaking at the launch of a report on Foreign Workers and Labour Conditions in Bahrain at the United Nations House in Hoora.
'Bahrain's law is clear on the subject. Any employer who withholds the passport is indulging in human trafficking, which is a crime. We will not let this happen,' he said.
'At the same time, we request workers to report any passport confiscation immediately for the agencies involved to take action. We cannot do it alone and need everybody to co-operate.'
The release of the report comes as Bahrain joins the rest of the world in observing World Human Rights Day tomorrow.
It was prepared by the UN Development Programme as part of Bahrain's Universal Periodic Review project.
Dr Al Baharna said several provisions had already been included in Bahrain's laws to care for migrant workers and ensure they are safe and happy.
'While long prison terms and hefty fines have already been introduced and several employers have been hauled up, we propose to further strengthen the laws and introduce other measures,' he said.
Dr Al Baharna said these include holding discussions with governments of labour exporting countries and continuing to inspect recruitment agencies to ensure they follow the law.
'Several other steps are being co-ordinated with regard to unpaid wages, inadequate wages or excessive work and forced labour,' he said.
Another important issue was workers' accommodation for which there is a proposal to increase inspections and ensure the health and safety of employees.
'We are also aware there are issues with physical, psychological and sexual abuse of workers,' said Dr Al Baharna.
He said the government proposed to set up a shelter for men who have been abused or trafficked, increase general awareness in co-operation with embassies and set up induction courses for workers.
Dr Al Baharna said they were also exploring the possibilities of setting up counselling centres with the Health Ministry's co-operation.
The report was prepared in joint consultation with the Labour, Interior, Foreign and Justice ministries as well as the Labour Market Regulatory Authority.
UN Environment Programme Regional Office for West Africa director and regional representative Dr Habib Elhabr read out UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's message at the event.
This was in addition to a statement from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was read out by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Middle East human rights officer Lana Baydas.-TradeArabia News Service