Bahrain retains Tier 1 Status for seventh consecutive year

The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which assesses 188 countries worldwide, reaffirmed Bahrain’s international standing in upholding human rights and combating human trafficking. The Kingdom has maintained its Tier 1 ranking, the highest in the classification, for the seventh consecutive year.

Bahrain leads the region in achieving this advanced ranking, reflecting its commitment to providing a progressive and stable work environment that safeguards the rights of all individuals without discrimination. This is achieved through a comprehensive framework that begins with proactive and ongoing awareness-raising, followed by protection and redress, per human rights principles and fundamental freedoms. These principles are enshrined in Bahrain’s Constitution, National Action Charter (NAC), national legislation, and international treaties and agreements, which serve as an institutional guide for all government agencies in the Kingdom.

The report emphasises Bahrain’s success in establishing a robust culture of human rights and combating trafficking in persons and a holistic framework centered on key pillars: prevention, protection, prosecution, partnerships, and institutionalising labour practices. This success has contributed to building a strong societal base that rejects any illegal practices in the labour market and supports the maintenance of a highly stable work environment that protects the rights of all parties without discrimination. This is achieved through an integrated mechanism involving various relevant government entities.

Bahrain has coordinated and mobilised efforts at both national and international levels among all relevant parties by enhancing awareness and community partnership. The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has established a dedicated directorate for Partnership and Outreach to raise awareness about illegal practices in the labor market, recognising the importance of community awareness in curbing such practices.

The LMRA proactively raises awareness by informing expat workers upon their arrival at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) about their rights and obligations, as well as providing them with communication channels for assistance, consultation, and reporting of any illegal practices. Ongoing awareness efforts continue through multi-channel campaigns in partnership with the embassies of labour-sending countries, civil society institutions, and UN and international organizations to ensure that awareness reaches all workers in various languages.

Bahrain has also continued to strengthen its efforts to raise community awareness of human trafficking and illegal practices in the labor market through the Regional Centre for Training on Combating Trafficking in Persons. In partnership with international organisations, the centre conducts programmes and training courses aimed at defining crime and its various forms. It also enhances the capabilities of frontline workers in police stations, hospitals, health centres, airports, ports, and judicial bodies to identify victims or potential victims, and qualifies and trains trainers and experts in this field.

 The report highlighted the Kingdom of Bahrain’s commitment to addressing these illegal practices in the labour market by establishing a specialised Preventative Monitoring Directorate at the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) dedicated to preventive monitoring, as well as the intensification of inspection campaigns across various businesses and markets. Additionally, launching the Labour Registration Programme in partnership with the private sector to address irregular workers and meet the labour market’s demand for skilled professionals capable of performing specific tasks.

The U.S. State Department report also commends the Kingdom’s development of a number of procedures to enhance the protection of expat workers, combat forced labour, and address various forms of trafficking in persons crime. These measures include the development of a Wages Protection system that mandates all employers to pay wages through an electronic system. This system enables the LMRA to track companies’ compliance with timely wage payments, promoting transparency, reducing labour disputes related to wages, and expediting their resolution.

Bahrain has also prioritised achieving justice and fairness for victims. The report has commended the Kingdom’s comprehensive approach aimed at protecting and assisting victims, most notably, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for the Victims of Trafficking in Persons connecting relevant government and non-governmental entities through electronic system streamlines processes, ensuring consistent, efficient, and high-quality support for victims. Furthermore, the LMRA Expat Protection Centre, is the first comprehensive and specialised facility of its kind in the Middle East region. EPC provides counseling, legal services, and shelter for victims and potential victims of crimes of trafficking in persons or any form of exploitation and focuses on the preservation of labour rights per best international standards and practices.

To ensure justice and expedite the process, the kingdom’ established the region’s first Public Prosecution for Trafficking in Persons. A specialised court was also designated to hear and adjudicate cases referred to it by the prosecution, ensuring swift investigation and adjudication of these crimes by specialised judicial personnel.  Additionally, criminal protection was enhanced by establishing the office for the protection of victims and witnesses in the cases of Trafficking in Persons and offering administrative assistance in filing labour and civil suits for workers.

BNA(R)

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