Bahrain, in cooperation with The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will establish a Regional Center of Excellence for capacity building in the field of combatting trafficking in persons.
Dr. Hatem Aly, the UNODC Representative for GCC said that they have been working with the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIPs) in Bahrain for several years, and that the establishment of this center will be a quantum leap in the field of combating trafficking in persons for the MENA Region.
The specifics of the cooperation was detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed by CEO of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and Chairman of the NCCTIPs, Mr. Ausamah Alabsi, and Dr. Aly.
Th center, which will be housed at the LMRA’s Expat Protection Center in Northern Sehla, will serve as a platform for the setting the standards of and training for all aspects of combating trafficking for the Middle East and North Africa.
Additionally, the center will act as a forum allowing experts in the field of counter-trafficking to exchange their experiences and expertise.
During the signing of the memorandum, Mr. Alabsi stressed on the invaluable efforts and measures taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain to combat trafficking in persons, and to create a fair and safe working environment in Bahrain.
Bahrain’s tireless efforts to combat trafficking resulted in sustaining its Tier 1 ranking in the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report for the second consecutive year as the only country in the region to reach this tier, as well as other reports issued by the United Nations and other governments around the world.
Mr. Alabsi added that the center will establish and document world-class standards in the practices of combating trafficking, victim identification and assistance, and capacity building for the Middle East and North Africa region.
He went onto say that since Bahrain’s initial ranking as a Tier 1 country in the US Trafficking in Persons Report last year, there has been an increase of delegates from regional governments visiting Bahrain to see firsthand how Bahrain executes its anti-trafficking framework, and that Bahraini officials have been sought out and invited abroad as trainers.
“Groups within the relevant Bahrain’s official agencies have been trained to an international standard on all areas of combating this crime. Bahraini experts have been building a compendium of global experiences through local and regional workshops to refine their practice. And today, through the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, we are laying the foundation for the establishment of a regional center of expertise and training in combating trafficking in persons.”
The center is a testament to the Kingdom of Bahrain’s investment in a human-led and hands-on approach to combating trafficking in persons. Mr. Alabsi envisages that the center will lead to an increase of expertise within the government by capacitating officials as UNODC certified trainers.
The establishment of the center is the latest in a series of developments made by the government of Bahrain to combat trafficking in persons and the exploitation of vulnerable persons.
On his part, Dr. Aly stressed the importance of Bahrain’s new Center of Excellence, stating: “The UNODC is adamant on supporting this initiative that will set the nucleus of home-grown solutions based on relevant issues, standardize them, document them, and regionally implement them, thus creating the critical mass of officials and practitioners in the MENA region capable of effectively combating trafficking and exploitation.”