BAHRAIN’S efforts to combat human trafficking, including the protection of alleged Filipina victims, has been praised by a top diplomat. Philippines Ambassador Alfonso Ver said the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has played a key role in addressing the “global scourge” through new programmes and intensified campaigns in the country.
Bahrain is a “leading advocate” of labour reforms in the region, he said.
Mr Ver’s comments come after Bahrain created history by being the only Gulf and Arab country in the world to achieve the highest ranking in the latest US State Department report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2018.
Bahrain investigated 31 alleged trafficking cases and sentenced seven sex traffickers, according to the report released earlier this month.
“The embassy welcomes this achievement and congratulates Bahrain for attaining Tier 1 status in the latest report by the US State Department on Combating Trafficking in Persons,” said Mr Ver. “The few, almost negligible, number of cases of Filipino victims of human trafficking in Bahrain is proof of the genuine efforts of the kingdom to address this global scourge.
“More importantly, the embassy takes this development in the larger context of labour migration reform of which Bahrain has been a leading advocate.”
Mr Ver said Bahrain’s achievements and understanding of the nexus of migration and sustainable development goals should rightfully include the rights of migrants.
He said the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIP) and the LMRA over the years have involved different stakeholders in the country to address this transnational crime. “The Philippines strongly advocates the creation of partnerships between labour-sending states and labour-receiving states to fight human trafficking.
“At the operational level, the embassy and LMRA closely co-ordinate and share information on cases of human trafficking involving Filipino nationals.
“The Philippines is an acknowledged model labour-deploying country and Bahrain is the model labour destination; the continuous partnership and co-operation will ultimately redound (contribute greatly) to the benefit of both the countries.”
Mr Ver said the embassy had labour awareness campaigns targeting the Filipino community, including a town hall meeting at the embassy in which LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi addressed the community and told them to be aware of their rights as well as local laws.
“The LMRA, Expat Protection Centre and the NCCTIP are the implementing arms of the kingdom in safeguarding the rights of expatriate workers and reduce their vulnerability to exploitation that may lead to trafficking in persons.”
Mr Ver said initiatives like the flexiwork permit that allows illegal workers to sponsor themselves and tripartite contract for domestic workers are “far-reaching and visionary”.
“These initiatives must be effectively implemented and given a chance to work as they will address many labour problems that may still occur in the kingdom.
“The embassy is well aware that these initiatives implemented by the LMRA are a first in the GCC and we hope that other GCC states will also emulate these initiatives as best practices in the over-all global efforts for the protection of migrants in particular and human rights in general.”