3rd Oct, 2012 –

We should be grateful to Human Rights Watch for putting in the time to compile a 123 page dossier concerning the rights of migrant workers in Bahrain. Expatriate workers, particularly those from South Asia played a substantial role in building the modern Bahraini state that we see around us today, yet sadly they have not always enjoyed the rights and recognition they deserve.

Credit also goes to Human Rights Watch for documenting significant Government reforms to improve the status of migrant workers. These include banning midday construction work during the hot summer; countering human trafficking; education campaigns to promote workers rights; and reinforcing the right of a worker to leave their employer or take legal action. HRW found that Bahraini courts are frequently sympathetic to worker grievances and often find in their favour.

This report welcomes the importance to Bahrain’s authorities of “having forward-looking migrant labor practices”. We hope that the Government will look constructively at HRW’s recommendations for strengthening the implementation of these measures.

Human Rights Watch documented numerous violent attacks against South Asian migrant workers in March 2011 by anti-government protesters. Pakistani workers provided evidence to Human Rights Watch about attacks that led to the death of a fellow worker and seriously injured others. It is shocking that migrant workers were singled out in this manner by a protest movement, which frequently exploits the language of human rights, but is content to trample over the rights of others in its efforts to force foreign workers to flee and inflame social unrest.

The abuse of migrant workers is an important issue across many states in the region and we can be proud that Bahrain is taking the lead in addressing this and ensuring that our South Asian brothers and sisters are accorded the dignity and respect that they deserve.

Link to HRW report: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/30/bahrain-abuse-migrant-workers-despite-reforms

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