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Target: Migrant Workers

On July 7, 2007

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has come out strongly against the move by the General Directorate of Traffic to ban foreign students and expatriates working in menial jobs from acquiring driving licenses. The law comes close on the heels of the one that bars unmarried expatriates from living in residential areas of Bahrain.

Describing them as 'attacks on the rights of migrant workers, who suffer from social discrimination and lack of legal protection', the center urged the government to revoke the policies.

"Practicing and promoting discrimination through legislation and policies does not augur well for a nation that sits on the
United Nations Human Rights Council," said Nabeel Rajab, vice president of the now defunct BCHR.

"We have seen time and again the government taking a free hand in violating the rights of expatriate workers because they are the most vulnerable section of the society and least able to defend themselves."

Instead of taking practical measures to ease traffic congestion like improving public transport system and encouraging better road practices such as car pooling, the government, he said, chose to take 'the easy way out and target the most vulnerable sections in Bahrain'.

He urged the authorities to consider lifting the ban in view of the large number of development and construction projects going on in the country wherein migrant workers played a crucial role.

Rajab also underlined the need for ending such 'discriminatory and divisive policies' that could increase tensions between various communities living in Bahrain, which have lived in harmony.