Special travel ban task force urged in Bahrain
Manama, August 27, 2014
Bahrain continues to face challenges when it comes to travel ban victims because of a lack of co-operation between government bodies, according to a rights report.
The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) has released its shadow report on the country's rights record, which was presented to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in preparation for Bahrain's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which will be discussed at the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva between September 8 and 26.
It has recorded 30 cases of travel bans since the start of the year, involving inmates who have completed their sentences but were still behind bars and expatriates unable to find work to pay off their debts because of the ban, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The report urges Bahrain to set up a special workforce to resolve cases of expatriates who have been stranded in the country for years.
“Given the lack of response to this situation from the Human Rights Affairs Ministry in Bahrain, we ask that all statements from Bahrain on their performance on human rights should be verified - showing data and individual cases,” said the report.
“We would like to see immediate response on human rights issues and flowing communication from Bahrain's Human Rights Affairs Ministry to human rights organisations.
“We would like to see governmental departments put processes in place to allow them to work in cohesion to the resolution of such cases and for the immediate elimination of human suffering.
“We ask that the ministry develop a 'best practice' module for handling rights issues - one which gives information to its peers on all reported violations of human rights and corresponding outcomes and solutions.”
BHRWS secretary general Faisal Fulad said a petition signed by 19 travel ban victims, who were being held at the Nationality, Passport and Residence Authority's (NPRA) temporary detention centre in Sitra, has also been included in the report.
The GDN reported yesterday that the Interior Ministry's Ombudsman Office has launched an investigation into the plea of the expatriate men.
“This is the latest example for our ongoing claim that travel ban issues are not addressed properly by the authorities,” said Fulad.
“It is the same story repeating and the victims are lost without proper response from the authorities.
“They are left in the dark due to lack of inter-departmental co-operation within the government.
“These human beings have families who are dependent on them and by ignoring the travel ban issues, the government is seriously violating rights agreements.”
The report also suggested the ministry establish a grievance unit to tackle unresolved human rights cases, particularly those involving travel bans.
“We ask that Bahrain give priority to human suffering by initiating a grievance mechanism for human rights issues that have not been resolved by the ministry in a timely manner, which can be registered and resolved immediately,” it stated.
“We ask that a complete review of policies and government procedures regarding employers and employee contracts be undertaken in order to set up a process to identify and punish rogue employers.
“The process should allow a confidential register of expatriates that have not been paid and government action to be taken on such employers.”
It added that BHRWS believed there were more than 4,000 existing cases of travel bans in Bahrain.
Ministry officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. - TradeArabia News Service