Review on Bahrain expats travel ban urged
Manama, May 21, 2012
The legality of imposing travel bans on thousands of expatriates, who have been stuck in Bahrain for years over outstanding debts has been questioned by a leading human rights activist.
Gulf European Centre for Human Rights director-general Faisal Fulad welcomed a new lifeline by authorities that allows victims to renew their residencies and apply for work to pay off their debts.
However, he said there should be an overhaul of the existing system and regulations should be reviewed to prevent imposing 'baseless' travel bans.
'This is major progress by Bahrain and is a morally sound and ethical judgement that will help many people who have been brought to destitution being held here by a travel ban for debts, but not having their residency renewed - so they cannot work to pay off those debts,' he said.
'We would like to work with the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry on the criteria for placing a travel ban and a review to be more compassionate.
'Putting people in jail for civil case debts is not helping anyone recover from the circumstances.'
Fulad also criticised judicial practices and methods of issuing travel bans on people that have never stood before a judge.
'It is understood that those owed money have a right to claim it, but without being aware of the complete circumstances of the person concerned - how is it morally or ethically acceptable for a judge to place a travel ban on someone they have never even met?' he asked.
'Apparently the judge has the right to do so, if he considers the person a flight risk, but if he has never met the person then what is he basing that decision on - is it simply that they are expatriate? If so, that is discrimination.
'Or is it perhaps, simply the word of the plaintiff, and that is unprofessional,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service