[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

BAHRAIN (Tier 1)Extracted in part from U.S. State Dept TIP Report, June 2020]

The Government of Bahrain fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Bahrain remained on Tier 1. The government increased overall trafficking investigations and prosecutions (including for forced labor), created labor trafficking-focused directorates, and investigated a Bahraini official allegedly complicit in a trafficking crime. Additionally, the government protected more victims and established a Center of Excellence for trafficking that aims to serve as a regional hub for expertise and training to combat the crime. The government allowed more workers to self-sponsor independent of an employer, and convened, organized, and funded a regional forum on trafficking that brought together high-level delegations from across the Middle East to share best practices and commit to specific anti-trafficking initiatives germane to the region. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not regularly investigate as potential trafficking crimes cases of unpaid or withheld wages, passport retention, and related abuses—all potential indicators of forced labor—but rather handled such matters administratively as labor law violations. Although vastly improved in the investigative and prosecution phases, the government’s overall law enforcement efforts remained chiefly focused on sex trafficking; it did not achieve any convictions of forced labor. Incomplete legal authorities and limited access of labor inspectors and other relevant authorities to domestic worksites hindered implementation of existing laws governing the sector.

Prioritized Recommendations

Continue to increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, particularly suspects of labor trafficking, including domestic servitude, and allegedly complicit officials.Expand and actively enforce labor law protections for domestic workers.Increase investigations and prosecutions of potential forced labor cases involving passport retention, non-payment of wages, and other indicators, as trafficking crimes.Strengthen and expand efforts to reform the sponsorship system by extending labor law protections to all workers in Bahrain, including domestic workers and all workers holding flexible work permits.Develop and implement a wage protection system covering all migrant workers.Increase proactive identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as domestic workers, migrant workers, and individuals in commercial sex.Routinely require the use of tripartite labor contracts for domestic workers.Tr a i n officials on and routinely use the two new labor trafficking-focused directorates to identify labor trafficking victims and investigate labor traffickers.Continue to train officials, particularly police, on the anti-trafficking law and victim identification.Continue to conduct national anti-trafficking awareness campaigns, strategically targeting migrant and domestic workers.