Cell to provide free legal help to Bahrain expats
Manama, June 19, 2011
Thousands of expatriates in Bahrain with nowhere to turn when in trouble could benefit from a new service offering free legal advice.
The Expatriate Legal Aid Cell (ELAC) was launched yesterday to provide round-the-clock assistance to people in need, particularly low-income workers.
It is the brainchild of Bahraini lawyer Ahmed Al Ammari.
"There are thousands of cases of migrant workers pending in courts and they have no clue what to do or how to follow up their case," Al Ammari told the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper.
"These workers do not speak Arabic and have no idea of their rights.
"ELAC is a platform for them to receive free legal advice from our qualified team of advocates."
Lawyers T P Surendaran and Mohammed Karuvencheri will assist Al Ammari in providing legal support to Bahrain's expatriate community.
"Workers need to be aware of their rights and this will be our task to inform them," said Karuvencheri. "For example, in cases of death claims and accidental insurance, workers have no clue that it is their legal right to receive compensation."
A Press conference was held at the Ramee Baisan Hotel, Exhibition Avenue, to announce the scheme.
It was later formally launched during an event at ELAC office on Exhibition Avenue, which was attended by Indian Embassy officials.
Karuvencheri said one of the most common problems ELAC was expected to deal with was the illegal possession of passports by employers. "The passport should be with the holder and not the employer," he said.
"It is a normal practice for employers to keep passports of their staff for renewing their residency permits. But if a worker is not being handed over his passport, he could formally lodge a complaint at police station or call us for legal assistance.
"It could be anything related form labour issues, legal agreements, contracts and other issues, where we can provide legal support. Callers will be assigned reference number to follow up their cases."
The ELAC helpline is now in operation and available at 17291544, 33118895 and 33937078. Questions can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 17297668. -TradeArabia News Service
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