Human trafficking report in Bahrain slammed


The US State Department now ranks the country as one whose government does not fully comply with the minimum legal standards required to tackle the problem and is not making significant efforts to do so.

The GDN reported in January that Bahrain had appeared on a special US government list of nations being monitored for what action they were taking to combat human trafficking.

It was one of the 164 countries included in an annual report released by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons on Tuesday.

Bahrain has now joined several others on the list for countries considered the worst offenders of human trafficking, alongside Algeria, Guinea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Myanmar and Venezuela.

But Foreign Ministry Assistant Under-Secretary for Co-ordination and Follow-up Dr Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, who is chairman of an Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking, claimed the government was at the forefront to tackle the problem.

"Bahrain has done a lot to combat human trafficking and we are convinced that we are on the right track," he said.

"The report states that any change Bahrain is going to make in the near future is based on international pressure – we are doing it out of our own need to move on this issue.

"It (human trafficking) is widespread in the country that has written this report.

"It is an international issue that most of the countries are trying to combat and we are among those at the forefront."

The US government is not ranked in any tier of the report, but classifies itself as a "special case".

However, the report says the US is a source and destination country for thousands of men, women and children trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation.

The US State Department is required by law to submit an annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report to Congress on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate human trafficking.

The TIP report ranks countries in a tier system.

Those in Tier 1 have governments that fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act’s minimum standards, while Tier 2 countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the act’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to do so.

Tier 3 countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the act’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Last year, Bahrain was rated in the Tier 2 category based on its "significant efforts" to address trafficking and largely on future pledges for the coming six months, but has now been moved to Tier 3.

"Bahrain is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation," says the report.

It states women are trafficked to Bahrain for sexual exploitation or forced labour and many migrant workers are subjected to involuntary servitude when forced to pay off large recruitment and transportation fees – and are faced with restrictions on their movement, non-payment of wages, threats and physical or sexual abuse. The document praises Bahrain for opening a shelter for female trafficking victims in November last year, but says it has only helped 14 people. The country was also criticised for failing to introduce a comprehensive anti-trafficking law.

"Bahrain made no discernible progress in preventing trafficking this year," the report says.

"The government initiated no new campaigns to prevent trafficking, but continued to distribute multilingual brochures on workers’ rights and resources to incoming workers.

"It should ensure that recruitment agencies and employers are aware of the rights of foreign workers to prevent their abuse."


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