International attention has intensified on the plight of foreign workers building stadiums ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and rightly so. The workers are forced to live and work in horrendous conditions, with many believed to be in this position as a result of forced trafficking. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) leadership, including its President Sep Blatter, has largely ignored the issue, at one point claiming that Qatar was on “the right track” with regard to worker’s rights. Though National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month concludes in one week, efforts to protect trafficked persons and migrant workers in countries like Qatar and other Gulf countries is urgent and must be ongoing.
In neighboring Bahrain, migrant workers and trafficked persons face similar abuse and conditions. A destination country for migrant workers, millions of workers from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines flock to Bahrain with the hope of earning the means to provide for their families in their home countries. Instead, they often find themselves in even worse conditions than the ones they came from. Migrant workers in Bahrain are routinely subjected to abuse, and in many cases are prevented from leaving the country. Though the Government of Bahrain has enacted some reforms aimed at alleviating the conditions of its migrant workers, the reforms fall far short of international standards. Prosecution for alleged abuses is slow or non-existent, and employer retaliation for legal complaints remains a significant issue. Private companies are rarely held accountable for trampling on the rights of the very migrant workers that have contributed significantly to the country’s development. According to the U.S. State Department’s most recent Human Trafficking in Persons report, at least 40 workers in Bahrain have committed suicide allegedly as a result of their working conditions in 2013.
If the Government of Bahrain is serious about protecting the rights of migrant workers, it can start by ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Ratifying the Convention would not only signify the government’s commitment to aiding vulnerable migrant workers, but would also serve as a vital mechanism with which the international community can hold Bahrain accountable for its failure to adequately and consistently implement legal protections for migrant and domestic workers.
Diala Jadallah is the Director of Advocacy at ADHRB.
الرجاء الضغط هنا لقراءة هذه الرسالة باللغة العربي