Migrant Workers in Bahrain and the problems they face

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Apr 6 2007

The Migrant Workers Protection Society in Bahrain has prepared an important report entitled "Migrant Workers in Bahrain & the Policies of Emigration Countries." Some important sections are highlighted below, but the entire report can be downloaded by clicking here.

The report neatly outlines the following as some of the biggest difficulties faced by these workers in Bahrain and other Gulf countries:

Lack of legal protection

According to the report, "this sector falls totally outside the purview of labour laws in the Kingdom of Bahrain." This means that migrant workers do not have the same rights as native workers, or the same labour protections that others do.

Exploitation by Recruiting Agents in the Sending and Receiving Countries

Migrant workers throughout the Middle East do not come freely out of their own will. Usually there is a middleman, some sort of agency, involved in arranging a "transaction" of labour between an employer in the host country and interested labourers in the sending country. Like all businesses, these agencies are out there to get money. They are trying to make a profit out of trafficking human beings. As such, their priority is money, not the rights of people. The report notes: "It is indeed a rare sight to see a worker in possession of legal contract of employment and yet this is the one document the authorities demand to see when he tries to complain." A Catch-22!

Slavery masked as "Sponsorship"
According to the report "the current sponsorship rules literally give sponsors exclusive and extensive powers over the workers employed by them. The worker literally becomes the sole property of the sponsor to do with as he wills." Effectively, this servant becomes a slave who must follow every command and rarely has the right to leave or be treated justly.

The report notes many other factors, including the phenomenon of run-away workers, the sale of visit visas, a slow judicial process, and the lack of legal protection even by the sending countries. Check out the whole report for more details.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East