U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Bahrain
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Bahrain, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d81823.html [accessed 9 October 2015]|
Bahrain (Tier 2)
Bahrain is a destination country for women and men trafficked from South Asia and the Philippines and – to a lesser extent – China, Indonesia, the former Soviet Union, Morocco, and Ethiopia. Victims endure coerced labor, debt bondage, involuntary sexual servitude, and restrictions on their freedom of movement, and verbal and physical abuse.
The Government of Bahrain does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. It has developed a national plan of action and created an inter-ministerial taskforce to coordinate Bahrain's anti-trafficking efforts. Domestic workers are not covered under Bahrain's labor laws, although they can seek redress through the courts and government mediation services. The court process is very lengthy and mediations are not well publicized for victims to benefit from them. Bahrain should develop a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and bring domestic workers under the protection of its labor laws. It should also encourage and foster the participation of civil society in the fight against trafficking. As an interim measure, it should take steps to expedite the hearing of labor disputes in its courts and make mediation services widely available to potential victims.
During the reporting period, the Government of Bahrain did not prosecute any traffickers. Although Bahrain lacks anti-trafficking laws, it can use certain provisions in its penal code to prosecute traffickers. In 2003, Bahrain acceded to the UN Convention on Transnational Crime and the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child. There is no evidence, however, to show that these provisions were used to prosecute and punish traffickers in 2003. Sixty-three recruitment agencies were closed for improperly altering the terms of employment contracts and for referring domestic servants to repeat abuser employers. Ten tourism agencies were closed for involvement in sex-related trafficking. There have been serious allegations that certain recruitment agencies routinely beat and rape newly arrived domestic servants. Some concerned members of the civil society brought these allegations to the government's attention, but there is no indication that any action has been taken to investigate and punish the alleged abusers. Although there is no evidence of official corruption, there is a widespread practice of selling visas to foreigners and then collecting monthly or annual fees for the right to remain in the country.
In 2003, the Government of Bahrain took a few steps to protect victims. The government pro-vides mediation services and grants victims temporary residency while they seek mediation, although many victims are unaware of these avenues and are reluctant to file charges for fear of retaliation by employers. In 2003, there were 84 complaints filed by domestic workers, 46 of which were settled and 38 went to court. In February, the government stopped the forced repatriation of 50 Indian workers whose cases were being heard in the courts. The court system is slow and discourages victims from seeking protection. In one example, 37 cases languished in labor courts for at least two years, and in another, a victim claiming unpaid wages abandoned her case and left the country after six years of seeking redress. Several cases are ongoing even after 10 court hearings. The government established a telephone hotline to assist victims of abuse, although the staff handling the calls lacks adequate training. Bahrain does not provide victims shelter and medical services, except in extreme cases.
In 2003, the Government of Bahrain took a few positive steps to prevent trafficking. In December, it launched a media campaign highlighting the conditions faced by foreign workers and featured 20 cases of housemaid abuse. The government has published and translated into Urdu, Thai, Singhalese, English, and Tagalog brochures to be distributed to foreign workers. It has also published a manual on the rights and duties of expatriate workers that it intends to distribute to local embassies, its embassies abroad, and recruitment agencies.