U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Bahrain
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Bahrain, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d876c.html [accessed 14 March 2014]|
Bahrain (Tier 2 Watch List)
Bahrain is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and sexual exploitation. Men and women from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines migrate willingly to Bahrain to work as laborers or domestic servants, but may be subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude when faced with exorbitant recruitment and transportation fees, withholding of their passports, restrictions on their movement, non-payment of wages, and physical or sexual abuse. Women from Thailand and Eastern Europe are also believed to be trafficked to Bahrain for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. For instance, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that it assisted 154 Thai women return to Thailand, many of whom are believed to be victims of trafficking.
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. Bahrain is placed on Tier 2 Watch List because its significant efforts to address trafficking in persons, as assessed by this Report, are based largely on pledges of future efforts over the coming six months. Specifically, the government did not enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law extending labor protection to domestic workers; however, a draft comprehensive anti-trafficking and labor law has been submitted for cabinet approval and should be passed in the near future. Moreover, although the government still has not opened a shelter to house victims of trafficking, the government has taken steps forward, such as allocating a budget and approving a site; the Government of Bahrain should take active measures to ensure that this shelter is opened soon. The government inter-agency committee coordinated the efforts of various ministries to help foreign workers. Bahrain should take measures to enact and enforce the anti-trafficking legislation it has drafted, explore new and additional ways to protect domestic workers, and follow through on commitments to open a shelter for victims of trafficking in the imminent future. Bahrain should also ensure that trafficking victims are not detained and deported.
During the year, Bahrain made some progress in investigating and prosecuting traffickers. Bahrain does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and did not enact draft legislation that criminalizes all forms of trafficking, although this legislation may be enacted soon. Other sections of the criminal code can be used to prosecute trafficking offenses, but Bahrain did not report any prosecutions or convictions this year. Despite reports that the Public Prosecutor's office received 92 cases this year, the government did not provide evidence that these cases were ever prosecuted. The Ministry of Labor employs mediation practices to resolve complaints before they rise to the level of legal action. The government has supported anti-trafficking training of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, NGO representatives, and employers through workshops. In addition, labor inspectors closed three recruitment agencies for labor violations and placed one on probation. The government should enact its draft legislation and increase investigations and criminal prosecutions of traffickers and recruitment agencies complicit in trafficking.
Bahrain took some significant measures to improve its protection of trafficking victims since last year. Although Bahrain allocated a budget and land for a shelter, the shelter has yet to be opened. The government does not otherwise provide shelter, medical or psychological care, or legal aid to victims of trafficking. Some illegal foreign workers are detained and deported without adequate protection. Hotlines are available to register complaints from foreign workers, but currently operate only during working hours. The government has instructed police not to return foreign workers to their employers if there is a risk of violence against the worker. Bahrain should significantly improve its protection efforts by extending the hours of hotline operations, and should refrain from deporting victims of trafficking.
Bahrain made some progress in its efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The government distributed multi-lingual brochures detailing workers' rights and assistance resources at airports, health centers, and foreign embassies. The Ministry of Labor also advertised two hotlines in the English-language newspaper. In 2005, the Ministry of Labor conducted seminars, in which both management and laborers participated, at 13 companies at which problems had been reported. The government should take measures to inform employers of the rights of foreign workers and the consequences for violation of these rights. To prevent the non-payment of wages, the Ministry of Labor is working with the banking sector to establish bank accounts for foreign workers so that employers can electronically transfer the workers' paychecks.