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Tenth Goal: Limiting Inequalities

Respect for the rights of individuals and equality, without looking at color and sex is an authentic part of the community's culture in the Kingdom of Bahrain, this is based mainly on equality among all human beings regardless of any distinctions.

The growing number of expatriate employees in Bahrain and the Gulf region had pushed the government to keep abreast with this growth by legislating recent laws to keep up with developments and launching many awareness-raising initiatives and prospects for expatriate employees. It aimed by this to fortify the rights of expatriate employees, especially unskilled expatriate employees with a low level of education, which are more vulnerable than others to exploitation and deception.

In line with these fundamental pillars, the Government of Bahrain was keen to join various international treaties and conventions regarding human rights and labour rights. In addition, it established a set of laws to maintain these rights.

The government has fortified its efforts by building an integrated system to combat trafficking in persons, by issuing and activating the necessary laws and legislation, naming the relevant official bodies, building national capacities, and raising awareness.

First: Legislation:

  1. In 2008, the Kingdom issued an integrated law that identifies cases of trafficking in persons and imposing sanctions against anyone who detains and a worker, takes advantage of him, or traffics him. The first article A) For the purpose of implementing the provisions of this Law, trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receiving persons, by means of threat or the use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deceit, abuse of power or of position or any other direct or indirect unlawful means.
    Exploitation shall include the exploitation of such person or the prostitution of others or any other forms of exploitation, sexual assault, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
    B) Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receiving of persons who are less than eighteen years of age or who are in a condition or personal state in which their consent or freedom of choice cannot be guaranteed shall be deemed as trafficking in persons if the intent is to exploit them even if such act is not accompanied by any of the means provided for in the preceding paragraph.
  2. The Kingdom of Bahrain established a National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2008, pursuant to a decree by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Its membership includes relevant ministries and government bodies, in addition to members and non-governmental institutions. This stems from the belief that efforts to combat trafficking in persons are not limited to government institutions, but rather are a partnership with civil society institutions. The presidency of the committee since 2015 has been entrusted to the CEO of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, as it is responsible for issuing and following up on expatriate employees permits.
  3. The Kingdom of Bahrain, with exceptional leadership, took the initiative to legislate the freedom of expatriate employees to other employers (Freedom of expatriate employee transfer) without hindrances after completing one year of work with an employer, believing that this right is an authentic human right before being regulated by law.
    The Labour Market Regulatory Authority began implementing the expatriate employee freedom of transfer in the fourth quarter of 2009, thus being the first Gulf country to take this step. This legislation has resulted in granting expatriate employees greater freedom, enabling them to choose where they want to work and stay.

Second: Awareness:

Within the framework of educating expatriate employees about their rights and duties, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority has embarked on a set of integrated steps, which are represented in:

  1. The Authority has issued awareness publications in (14) different languages that are distributed to expatriate employees before they come to the Kingdom (in their home countries) in cooperation with the embassies of the labour-exporting countries in Bahrain, showing the expatriate employees their rights and duties.
  2. The Authority distributes free telephone chips with credit to expatriate employees, with the aim of keeping expatriate employees in constant contact, and in order for them to be aware of all developments about their work licenses and legal status in the Kingdom via SMS messages according to the expatriate employee’s language.
  3. Distributing awareness brochures to expatriate employees upon entering the Kingdom of Bahrain to inform them of the services provided to them and their rights and duties, in addition to instructions to avoid becoming victims of trafficking.
  4. Launching the Bahrain Awareness Awards, this aims to spread a culture of respect for the rights and duties of expatriate employees as an important category of society, and via producing media materials that serve the award's goal by the youth in Bahrain and the Gulf states, both citizens and residents. In its first edition, the award aimed at spreading awareness regarding Paying Domestic Expatriate Employees’ Wages on Time, the second edition aimed at Treat them well. The competition was praised by international organizations, particularly the US State Department in its Human Rights Report for two consecutive years, and the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) William Lacey Swing, who considered Bahrain a global model of best practice regarding expatriate employees.

Third: Procedural:

  1. Expatriate Protection and Assistance Centre
    The Labour Market Regulatory Authority established a directorate concerned with grievances and protection concerned with following up on expatriate employees' complaints and guiding and assisting them, in addition to a center to support and protect expatriate employees. It is the first comprehensive centre in the region to support and protect expatriate employees according to international standards. The centre is equipped with a hotline and provides its services in seven different languages. A large number of expatriate employees of different nationalities have benefited from the services of this centre, providing them with all kinds of advisory and health services, in addition to correcting the legal status of those who wished to continue staying in the Kingdom of Bahrain and obtain a job opportunity.
  2. The Labour Market Regulatory Authority and the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons, in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the GCC countries and the International Organization for Migration, launched the (National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking in Persons) which is the first in the region. The Mechanism aims to strengthen measures to combat trafficking in persons, and to clarify and regulate the role of the various authorities and their mechanisms for dealing with any case of trafficking or suspected trafficking. The Labour Market Regulatory Authority, in cooperation with the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons, has launched the digital version of the system as a pioneering step in the world and the region.
    The importance of converting the Referral Mechanism to an electronic system is that it links all relevant authorities (the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, the Ministry of Interior and police stations, the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs & Endowments, The Public Prosecution, hospitals and health centres, in addition to embassies and diplomatic missions), and to follow-up the gradual and chronological sequence of the case, starting with victim identification, case documentation, monitoring, protection and assistance, to reintegration or voluntary return.

Last Update: Wednesday 9 June 2021