BAHRAIN is stepping up efforts to tackle human trafficking by creating a dedicated new unit to help victims.It will be overseen by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and include participation of social workers, law enforcement agencies, embassies, prosecutors and other trained staff.A special hotline is also planned where victims can report cases of human trafficking, which could range from non-payment of salaries and withholding passports to forced prostitution.
“The idea is to have in place a National Referral System (NRS) in Bahrain, which will serve as a central point for all workers to register their case,” revealed LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi. “There will be one body that will deal with complaints and assess whether they qualify to be investigated.”
Mr Al Absi added that serious cases would be referred to police and the Public Prosecution.
“The system should be operational by the second quarter of the year and we will be using administrative facilities and other support from the LMRA,” he added.
The planned hotline would operate around the clock and be manned by trained experts able to speak different languages.
“The NRS will help us study the different trends in the country and help us formulate our national policies,” said Mr Al Absi, who is also chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.
Details of the new human trafficking unit have emerged less than a week after police raided a Manama restaurant and rescued three Thai women who were allegedly being held captive as sex slaves.
The GDN reported yesterday that a Bahraini had been remanded in custody for 15 days for allegedly holding four South American women captive for months at a Manama hotel and forcing them into prostitution.
The three Dominican women and a Colombian teenager claimed they were assaulted and forced into the flesh trade after they arrived in Bahrain.
The latest US State Department Report on Trafficking in Persons, released last year, put Bahrain on a Tier 2 watch list for the third consecutive year.
It said Bahrain did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but was making significant efforts to do so.