BAHRAIN treats migrant workers as badly as other Gulf states despite its superior labour law, human rights watchdogs warned on Tuesday.
It is the only country in the region that allows migrant workers to join trade unions. It also allows migrant workers to change jobs while in the country.
However, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain director Husain Abdulla said that the law was rarely implemented and that employers found ways to punish workers who wanted to quit by withholding their salaries and passports.
“One thing Gulf countries are good at passing is legislation,” he said. “However, in implementing those laws — which look very good on paper, look humanitarian, reasonable and up to international standards — we see little to nothing.”
The charity visited labour camps in Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia over the past six months and reported back in a document entitled Slaving Away: Migrant Labour Exploitation and Human Trafficking in the Gulf.
Mr Abdulla said that migrants’ current situation amounted to slavery.
“The idea is to put fear in these migrant workers. No-one speaks up and everyone works as a robot,” he said.
“Migrant workers built these countries and for them to be treated this way is just obscene.”
And several European countries appear to agree.
The Gulf Co-operation Council cancelled a June 23 meeting with its European Union counterpart yesterday in protest at an unfavourable statement at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week on the human rights situation in Bahrain.