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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06MANAMA389 2006-03-14 04:35:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manama
Cable title:  

BAHRAIN ANTI-TRAFFICKING RESPONSES 2006

Tags:   KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC KFRD PREF BA HUMRIT 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 MANAMA 000389 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, NEA/RA, NEA/ARP
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID
STATE PLEASE PASS TO DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC KFRD PREF BA HUMRIT
SUBJECT: BAHRAIN ANTI-TRAFFICKING RESPONSES 2006

REF: STATE 3836

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. NOT
FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.



1. (SBU) Post's response to reftel follows. Answers are
keyed to reftel questions. Please note that during the
reporting period the Ministry of Social Affairs, which has
the lead in establishing a shelter for victims of trafficking
and abuse, was renamed the Ministry of Social Development.



2. (SBU) 21A. Bahrain is a country of destination for men
primarily as laborers and, to a lesser extent, domestic
workers, and women primarily as domestic workers and, to a
lesser extent, laborers. There is no evidence that
trafficking of children is an issue in Bahrain. Trafficking
does not occur within Bahrain's borders and there is no
territory outside of GOB control. Numbers of those
trafficked are unclear as systems for recording and reporting
such information are still in their early stages. The
Ministry of Labor stood up an automated system in mid-2005 to
track employer-reported "runaway" workers, providing
efficiency and enabling a wider base of users access to the
information. The Ministry reported that 2,284 workers were
registered as runaways by their employers in calendar year


2005. An inter-ministerial task force has discussed the
establishment of a database to record instances of
trafficking in a more comprehensive way, but action has not
been initiated as yet. Sources of information on trafficking
and steps the government is taking to address the problem are
as follows: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor,
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry
of Interior, Migrant Worker Protection Society (MWPS), human
rights NGOs, and the embassies of source countries. Although
the GOB sources are reliable in the information they provide,
systems are not yet in place to provide reliable numerical
and statistical data.



3. (SBU) 21B. There was no evidence of significant change
in the extent of trafficking from the last reporting period.
Primary source countries for Bahrain were India, Pakistan,
Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, and the
Philippines. To a lesser extent, China, Ethiopia, Eritrea,
and countries of the former Soviet Union were also source
countries. Trafficking occurred primarily through
recruitment agencies in source countries and in Bahrain.
Victims commonly related anecdotes about agencies in source
countries charging high administrative fees and describing
desirable employment and attractive wages in Bahrain. Upon
arrival in Bahrain, the reality that faced new workers was a
changed contract, workplace and job; long, arduous hours;
lower salary than promised; and instant debts that had to be
repaid to the local recruiting agency and sponsor. The new
worker did not have much choice but to accept the new terms
and begin paying off the debt, which may take months,
sometimes more than a year. Housing was often over-crowded,
unsanitary and without air conditioning, an unsafe situation
during the extremely hot summer months. Workers were subject
to periods of non-payment or partial payment of their
salaries. Domestic workers were subject to excessive hours,
lack of freedom of movement outside the house, verbal and
physical abuse (including rape), withholding of documents
such as passports, forced labor in the homes of neighbors or
relatives of the sponsor, and forced fasting during Ramadan,
even for non-Muslims. Domestics reported having been locked
up in recruitment agency offices while they waited for
initial deployment or redeployment in cases of problems in
the initial assignment. The press reported occasional
suicides among expatriate workers. Participation in the sex
tourism industry was almost always voluntary; cases of forced
prostitution were rare.



4. (SBU) 21C. From post's perspective there are no clear
limitations on the government's ability to address
trafficking. The government points to the natural
bureaucratic process taking time for the passage of
legislation, the establishment of a shelter, and the
realization of other initiatives.



5. (SBU) 21D. The inter-ministerial task force meets
regularly to monitor and assess its progress on different
fronts. The USG has identified with the GOB that reporting
on progress is a weakness. There have been a few press
stories in which the head of the task force, MFA Assistant
Under Secretary for Coordination and Follow-up Shaikh Abdul
Aziz Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa was featured, and in which he
called attention to the problem of trafficking and discussed
measures the government is taking to address the issue. The
MFA is in the process of standing up a human rights section
within its legal affairs division, and post has received some
support from this section during the reporting period.



6. (SBU) 22A. The GOB acknowledges at the highest levels
that trafficking is a problem, and there exists the political
will to address it. In January Shaikha Sabeeka Bint Ebrahim
Al Khalifa, wife of King Hamad and Chairwoman of the Supreme
Council for Women, participated in an international
roundtable conference on human trafficking in Athens, Greece.
The conference was organized by the Suzanne Mubarak Women's
International Peace Movement and the global coalition Women
Defending Peace. There was much local press coverage of her
involvement in the event, drawing much attention to the
problem of trafficking.



7. (SBU) 22B. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the lead
in anti-trafficking efforts with Shaikh Abdul Aziz as the
head of the inter-ministerial task force. Other government
agencies involved on the task force are as follows: Ministry
of Justice, the Attorney General's office, Ministry of
Interior, Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, Ministry of Social
Development, and the Capital Governorate.



8. (SBU) 22C. Education efforts to date have primarily
focused on educating workers. Multi-lingual printed
information was given to workers arriving at the airport, at
health centers where each new worker must have a physical
exam, at embassies, and at the Ministry of Labor. In
addition, phone numbers for two hotlines, a trafficking
hotline and a labor inspection hotline, were carried daily in
the English-language newspaper, the Gulf Daily News. In the
reporting period, the trafficking hotline office received 28
cases, including 15 calls, 10 letters or faxes, and three
walk-in cases. In 2005 the Ministry of Labor conducted
outreach/mediation events with 13 companies in which there
had been reported problems. These events involved sharing
information on regulations and new initiatives, conducting
discussion sessions involving both managers and employees to
encourage mutual understanding, and distributing handouts.
GOB officials have voiced the need for additional outreach
after anti-trafficking legislation is passed.


9. (SBU) 22D. U.S. funded NGO TIP-related trainings have
included the involvement of GOB officials, judges,
prosecutors, and attorneys. The Ministry of Labor conducted
outreach activities as described in para 8.



10. (SBU) 22F. Through its four-year existence, the Migrant
Worker Protection Society has developed an adequate network
to assist victims. The Ministry of Interior contacts the
MWPS when the police identify victims who need assistance.
The MWPS supports victims in dealing with immigration and
visa problems. The MWPS also facilitates victim contact with
her/his embassy's staff. The MWPS receives no GOB funding
although Bahraini officials, in particular MFA's Shaikh Abdul
Aziz, have supported MWPS's fundraising efforts. Recently
the Indian Women's Association pledged to fund the rent for
the MWPS shelter for one year. Within the government the
Ministry of Labor coordinates frequently with immigration
authorities on individual cases.



11. (SBU) 22G. There is no apparent system for monitoring
patterns for evidence of trafficking. Bahrain's sole border
crossing is the causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
The press carries occasional reports of alien smuggling into
Saudi Arabia across the causeway, but cases are not common.



12. (SBU) 22H. As stated above, the inter-ministerial task
force, led by Shaikh Abdul Aziz, coordinates GOB action. The
GOB does not have a public corruption task force. Issues of
corruption are addressed publicly by periodic government
audit reports, Members of Parliament in the Council of
Representatives, and by an NGO, the Bahrain Transparency
Society.



13. (SBU) 22J. Member ministries of the anti-trafficking
task force formulated a national plan of action that includes
legislation, a shelter, a trafficking database, phone
hotlines, and outreach, among other items. NGOs were not
consulted in the process. The plan is an internal document
and has not been made public in its official form.



14. (SBU) 23A. Bahrain has not yet passed anti-trafficking
legislation. Draft legislation has been completed and is
presently out for feedback from relevant ministries. In
addition, the draft will be circulated in March 2006 in
Riyadh at a meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
countries subsequent to their request that Bahrain take the
lead on drafting model legislation that all GCC countries
could consider for implementation. Present Bahraini laws are
not adequate to cover the full scope of trafficking, but
cases involving trafficking have been prosecuted under forced
labor, unjustifiable holding of salaries, unlawful holding of
an employee's passport, assault, and forced prostitution.
USG-funded programs have assisted the Ministry of Justice in
drafting the proposed legislation.



15. (SBU) 23B. Anyone found guilty of sexual exploitation
is subject to imprisonment of between two and seven years.
If the victim is under 18 years of age, the imprisonment
increases to between three and ten years. Government
employees found guilty of imposing forced labor on other
government employees are subject to imprisonment of up to ten
years. Non-government employees found guilty of forced labor
are subject to imprisonment and/or a fine.



16. (SBU) 23C. Under current law, rape of a female is
punishable by a sentence of up to ten years in prison, and
rape of a male can result in imprisonment of up to seven
years unless the male victim is under 17 years of age, in
which case the perpetrator can be imprisoned up to ten years.
Sex trafficking is not covered under current law.



17. (SBU) 23D. Under current laws, both the activities of
prostitutes and those soliciting prostitution are
criminalized. The activities of handlers of prostitutes,
such as pimps or brothel owners/operators, are also
criminalized.



18. (SBU) 23E. Because "trafficking" is not yet addressed
by Bahraini law, there have been no convictions for
trafficking. However, the GOB has prosecuted aspects of
trafficking cases under current laws such as those listed in
para 14. In a recent case, seven individuals, including two
Bahrainis and five Indians, have been charged with unlawful
bondage of workers and assault after holding six expatriate
workers captive for 15 hours in a refrigeration truck. If
convicted they face between three and 15 years of
imprisonment. The Ministry of Labor employs mediation
techniques to resolve complaints before they rise to the
level of legal action. This mediation is conducted at two
levels. First, before a complaint has entered the system
officially, labor counselors make an attempt to resolve the
issue. Reportedly 16% of 233 cases involving domestic
workers were resolved before formal registration of the
complaint. Another 44% were resolved after registering the
complaint formally and undergoing a more robust mediation
effort. The remaining 92 cases could not be resolved and
were forwarded to the Public Prosecutor's Office for further
action. Information on the outcome of these cases was not
available from the Public Prosecutor's Office.



19. (SBU) 23F. Recruitment agencies in Bahrain and in
source countries are primarily responsible for trafficking in
Bahrain. Sponsors of expatriate workers who arbitrarily
change terms of worker contracts without worker input are
also guilty of trafficking. The Ministry of Labor has
employed three new labor inspectors to focus on recruitment
agencies. During the reporting period all of the existing 86
recruitment agencies were inspected, three were closed for
violations and a fourth was placed on probation. Two of
those which were closed were allowed to reopen after
adequately addressing the violations. The inspectors
resolved 103 of 113 complaints filed with their office
against recruitment agencies during the reporting period.
The remaining are still under investigation.



20. (SBU) 23G. The Ministry of Labor employs approximately
60 labor inspectors who initiate inspections upon application
for a work permit, subsequent to a worker complaint,
following an employer request, and also randomly. Covert
police operations, although permitted by Bahraini law, are
not used to investigate alleged trafficking. Undercover
officers are used to catch prostitutes. Labor inspectors
inspect labor sites to find and deport illegal workers and
punish their sponsors. Sponsors are liable for deportation
expenses and fines of up to 1000 dinars ($2,660) for each
illegal worker.



21. (SBU) 23H. The GOB has encouraged its officials to
participate in trafficking related programs on how to
recognize, investigate, or prosecute instances of trafficking
as they have become available. A new eight-week training
course on international law to be conducted by MOJ Under
Secretary Shaikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa and Assistant

SIPDIS
Under Secretary Judge Abdulla Al Buainain will include
elements of anti-trafficking law throughout and a separate
module devoted to trafficking. The recipients of the
training will be new prosecutor trainees from whom new judges
are often appointed. Through an American Bar Association
(ABA) program, Judge Maria Giammarinaro, an Italian judge and
expert in trafficking law, delivered a one-week training
workshop in September 2005 for judges, prosecutors and
lawyers. The Minister of Justice addressed the cohort of
trainees to affirm the importance he attached to the issue.
International trafficking expert Dr. Mohamed Mattar from
Johns Hopkins University will be in Bahrain to conduct a
workshop in March 2006 for government officials, attorneys,
employers, and civil society groups.



22. (SBU) 23I. Post is not aware of any cooperative
international investigations or prosecutions of trafficking
cases. Embassies of source countries coordinate with the
Ministry of Labor to resolve alleged trafficking cases.



23. (SBU) 23J. There are no known trafficking-related
extradition requests filed with the GOB. Bahrain is party to
a number of bilateral extradition treaties and some
multinational arrangements, including the Arab Agreement to
Combat Trans-Arab Organized Crime and the Arab Agreement to
Combat Terrorism.



24. (SBU) 23K. There is no firm evidence of government
involvement in or tolerance of trafficking. However, there
are reportedly prominent members of the Bahraini community
who receive authorization to sponsor large numbers of
expatriate workers over the number they can reasonably
employ. Some reportedly engaged in the illegal practice of
"selling" the visa to the worker for a fee of up to more than
1000 dinars ($2660), who is then free to look for employment
secretly and illegally on the open market, called "a casual

SIPDIS
laborer." Employers who hire these workers are subject to
fines if caught. However, since they can hire these workers
for less than legitimately hired workers through recruitment
agencies, some accept the risk. The Ministry of Labor system
of accountability requires that if a laborer leaves his/her
sponsor, the sponsor must report the laborer as a "runaway"
worker and pay a 100 dinar ($266) deposit, refundable upon
detention of the worker. In 2005, 2284 workers were reported
as runaways and 691 casual laborers were detained and
referred to immigration for deportation. Reportedly, in many
cases after a "casual" worker's two year work permit validity
expires, the worker must go back to the original sponsor to
"renew" his work permit by "buying" the visa again from the
sponsor for a similar sum. The Ministry of Labor reported
that in 2005 there were two Bahraini individuals who were
charged for this kind of illicit activity.



25. (SBU) 23L. No government officials have been prosecuted
for involvement in trafficking or trafficking-related
corruption.



26. (SBU) 23M. Bahrain does not have an identified child
sex tourism problem.



27. (SBU) 23N. Bahrain has signed and ratified ILO
Conventions 29, 105 and 182, in addition to the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In
March 2004, the MFA announced Bahrain's accession to the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the
Protocols to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children.



28. (SBU) 24A. The GOB does not provide shelter, medical
care, or psychological services specifically for victims of
trafficking. However, emergency medical care is universally
available in Bahrain. Police are instructed not to return an
abuse victim to her/his sponsor if there is a risk of
violence. As was mentioned earlier, MWPS has become a
contact for police stations in cases where victims need
shelter. The GOB, through the Ministry of Social
Development, has taken several steps to open a government-run
shelter open to any victim of abuse in Bahrain. Funds have
been allocated and a building has been selected for its
operation, an administrative staffing plan has been approved,
and its by-laws are in the process of being approved. The
Ministry of Labor operates two hotlines (see para 8) during
business hours. Recently the budget for the hotlines was
augmented to expand the service to 24 hours; the longer
service is estimated to begin in summer 2006. As described
in para 18, the MOL also provides labor dispute mediation
services and works with immigration authorities to provide
temporary residency when necessary until the dispute is
resolved.



29. (SBU) 24B. Although it permits NGOs that serve migrant
workers to operate freely in Bahrain, the GOB does not
provide funding or other forms of support for services to
victims.



30. (SBU) 24C. There is no formal referral process in place
for victims of abuse; victims are handled on a case by case
basis. In some cases a victim is given temporary shelter by
the police while the case undergoes a preliminary
investigation. Other cases are referred to MWPS to provide
longer term shelter and assistance. And in cases where there
is an indication of misconduct on the part of the expatriate
worker, the worker may be held in detention before being
deported.



31. (SBU) 24D. Trafficking victims are not fined or
imprisoned unless they have perpetrated a non-labor crime
such as theft, assault, or prostitution. Workers who are no
longer employed by their sponsor, but who have pursued work
illegally, if caught, are detained at the Immigration
Residence while being processed for deportation. According
to the Ministry of Labor, attempts were made not to detain
workers for longer than 48 hours, but detention lengths
reportedly varied.



32. (SBU) 24E. Although the GOB may not actively encourage
workers to pursue legal action against employers, it does not
discourage the initiation of such legal action. The GOB
reportedly facilitates contact with lawyers, but NGOs report
that workers rarely have the resources to hire quality
attorneys. Immigration officials often adjust residence
requirements and sponsorship enabling expatriate victims to
work for employers other than their sponsors in order to
support themselves during the legal process.



33. (SBU) 24F. At present, the GOB provides little support
for victims and witnesses. Progress on a shelter for victims
was discussed above in para 28. Other than the MWPS shelter,
the Philippine Embassy has its own shelter and a robust
program of protecting Philippine victims of abuse, averaging
between 30 and 40 victims seeking refuge monthly. No other
embassy has its own shelter. However, the Indonesian
government has imposed a tentative ban on new Indonesian
domestic workers to Bahrain. The Philippine Embassy has
imposed a minimum monthly wage of 75 dinars ($200) in
addition to a requirement that all contracts be approved by
the Embassy before the worker arrives in Bahrain. The Indian
Embassy is also currently seeking to impose a strict set of
contractual rules such as holding recruitment agencies
responsible for medical treatment and repatriation of abuse
victims.



34. (SBU) 24G. The GOB does not regularly provide
specialized training for government officials, including its
diplomats in other countries. However, there has been
discussion about needed training for shelter workers prior to
the opening of the government shelter in Bahrain. U.S. NGO
Education Development Center has arranged for a seminar in
March 2006 conducted by well-known trafficking expert Dr.
Mohamed Mattar for civil society groups, employers, legal
professionals, educators and government officials. In
addition to the seminar, Dr. Mattar will meet with the task
force and provide input on both anti-trafficking legislation
and shelter guidelines.



35. (SBU) 24H. Post is not aware that any Bahraini
nationals were victims of trafficking during the reporting
period.



36. (SBU) 24I. No international NGOs currently work in
Bahrain. The GOB has not developed a mechanism by which
international organizations and NGOs are able to register to
work in Bahrain. In 2004, the GOB approved an International
Organization for Migration (IOM) project, but was unable to
identify a legal mechanism allowing IOM to operate in the
country. The task force is still working on a resolution to
this situation, but as yet it remains unresolved.



37. (SBU) Post POC is Poloff Mike Mussi (office: 973 1724
2834, fax: 973 1727 3011). Hours spent on the report are as
follows: FS-04 officer, 65 hours; FS-02 officer, 2 hours;
FS-01 officer, 2 hours.

MONROE