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Tenth Goal: Reduced Inequalities

Respect of individuals’ rights and equality, without discrimination on the basis of race or gender, is a key pillar in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s culture, which is built based on equality among all human beings, regardless of any distinctions.

The ever increasing number of expatriate employees locally and regionally necessitates passing legislation to keep pace with regional developments. Beyond this, initivaties and campaigns that sought to educate expatriate workers on their rights have been launched. This effectively works towards protecting the vulnerable demographic of expatriate employees.

In line with these fundamental pillars, the Kingdom of Bahrain is keen to acceding to various international treaties and conventions regarding human and labour rights. In addition, laws were enacted to preserve those rights.

Additionally, the government has reinforced its efforts by building an integrated system to combat trafficking in persons through passing legislation and developing entities tasked with this.

First: Legislation

  1. The Kingdom of Bahrain issued Law No. (1) of 2008, defining trafficking in persons and establishing the sanctions imposed against perpetrators who exploit or traffic workers.
    Article (1) states:
    A) For the purpose of implementing the provisions of this Law, trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, 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, harbouring, 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. In 2008, the Kingdom of Bahrain established the National Committee for Combatting Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIPs), pursuant to Ministerial Decision issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Its membership includes relevant government bodies and non-governmental organizations. This stems from the belief that efforts to combat trafficking in persons are not limited to government institutions, rather partnerships with civil society institutions. Since 2015, the chairmanship of the committee has been entrusted to the CEO of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, as LMRA is responsible for regulating expatriate employment.
  3. In a pioneering step, The Kingdom of Bahrain took the initiative to legislate mobility from employer to another (ability to transfer), after completing one year of employment with the employer, in belief that such action is a fundamental human right.
    Labour Market Regulatory Authority began implementing the mobility system in the fourth quarter of 2009, thus being the first GCC country to take such step. This legislation has enabled more liberty to expat workers in selecting jobs and employers.

Second: Awareness

As part of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority’s role in raising expatriate employees’ awareness of their rights and obligations, LMRA has taken integral steps, such as:

  1. Distributing awareness publications in (14) different languages to expatriate employees before arrival to the Kingdom of Bahrain (in their home countries), highlighting their rights and obligations, in cooperation with embassies of labour-sending countries in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
  2. Handing out free prepaid SIM cards to expatriate employees, to keep in contact and be aware of the latest changes regarding their work permits and legal status in the Kingdom of Bahrain, via SMS messages written in their languages.
  3. Distributing awareness brochures to expatriate employees upon entry to the Kingdom of Bahrain, informing them of the available services, educating them about their rights and obligations, in addition to instructions on how to avoid failing victims of trafficking.
  4. Launching Bahrain Awareness Awards, which aims to promote a culture of respect to expatriate employees’ rights, who form an integral part of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s society, via allowing the youth in the Kingdom of Bahrain and GCC countries, both nationals and residents, to produce media content that serves toward the award's goal. The award’s first edition targeted spreading awareness of Timely Payment of Wages for Domestic Workers, while the second edition targeted Well Treatment. The event was commended by international organizations, particularly the US State Department in the Human Rights Report for two consecutive years and the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) William Lacey Swing, who considered the Kingdom of Bahrain a global model for its best practices in dealing with expatriate employees.

Third: Procedural

  1. Expat Protection Centre:
    Labour Market Regulatory Authority established Protection and Grievances Centre to handle expatriate employees’ complaints, in addition to providing guidance and assistance. Expat Protection and Grievances Centre was also launched to provide support and protection to expatriate employees, which is the first comprehensive centre in the region in the field that operates in line with international standards. The centre houses the National Human Trafficking Hotline (995), operating 24/7 in (12) different languages. Many expatriate employees of different nationalities benefit from the centre’s services, where they are also provided with advisory services, in addition to the opportunity to regularize the administrative status of those who wish to stay and work in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
  2. National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking in Persons:
    Labour Market Regulatory Authority and the National Committee for Combatting Trafficking in Persons, in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the GCC region and the International Organization for Migration, launched the regionally unprecedented (National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking in Persons). The NRM aims to strengthen measures to combat trafficking in persons, illustrate and regulate the role of the concerned entities and mechanisms for dealing with cases of trafficking or potential trafficking in persons. LMRA, in cooperation with the National Committee for Combatting Trafficking in Persons, has launched the digital version of the system as a pioneering step in the world and the region.
    The significance of converting the National Referral Mechanism to an electronic system is that it links all relevant entities (Labour Market Regulatory Authority, Ministry of Interior and police stations, Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Waqf, Public Prosecution, hospitals and health centres, in addition to embassies and diplomatic missions). It also allows for up-to-date follow-ups on cases, both sequentially and chronologically, starting with victim identification, case documentation, monitoring, protection and assistance, to reintegration.
Last Update: 20-03-2024.