Travel ban: 4,000 stranded in Bahrain
Manama, March 6, 2012
Nearly 4,000 people have been stranded in Bahrain for years as a result of travel bans imposed on them following legal battles over repayment of bank debts.
Investigations carried out by the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) also revealed that some expatriates have been unable to renew their residence permits, meaning they were barred from leaving the country and they could not acquire a work visa.
'It is believed that approximately 4,000 people have been slapped with travel bans for not settling their debts with local and international banks,' said BHRWS secretary-general Faisal Fulad.
'Some of them are living here for more than 10 years and have not left Bahrain. They cannot even be employed with their legal situation.'
Fulad urged authorities to fast-track travel ban cases to end the plight of thousands of stranded residents, saying it violated their human rights.
'Fast-track judicial arrangement in such cases is the best and only solution to solve this problem immediately,' he said.
'If the outcome of the case is decided quickly, it could help the person leave the country and reunite with his family.'
He said his team could not find any reference or conditions in bank statements of the stranded residents that stated outstanding financial debts could result in a travel ban.
Fulad's comments came as Bahrain prepares to host the first GCC Private Banking Conference in partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development Board.
He demanded the private sector discuss the issue tomorrow as more than 200 bankers will gather to debate the future of the industry in light of global and regional challenges.
He also demanded participants to question Central Bank of Bahrain Governor Rasheed Al Maraj on the legitimacy of imposing such travel bans.
'We are delighted that such a prestigious conference is being held in Bahrain at this time, as it gives us an opportunity to ask Mr Al Maraj why the rules of the International Code of Banking Practice are flouted in Bahrain,' said Fulad.
'We would also like to question the participants on the legitimacy of the travel bans placed on customers, which is also a violation of the code.'
US-based Human Rights Watch in August sent a written request to Bahrain's Foreign Affairs Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa regarding travel ban cases. - TradeArabia News Service