Parliament's law to ban migrant workers who are unmarried from living in residential areas is discriminatory and promotes derogatory racist attitudes towards migrant workers.

"...bachelors also use these houses to make alcohol, run prostitute rings or to rape children and housemaids." (MP Nasser Fadhala, quoted in the Gulf Daily News, making claims to justify the law)

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights 28-04-2007

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is shocked by moves made by MPs to banish unmarried migrant workers from living in residential areas.

To relocate labour camps to industrial areas - where few Bahrainis would choose to live - appears the first step towards building a ghetto where migrant workers will be segregated from Bahraini residents.

MPs have not asked that unmarried Bahraini men are banned from living in residential areas, only that the law applies to migrant workers.

For a member of Parliament to suggest that migrant workers use their residences as criminal havens for rape, prostitution and the illegal sale of alcohol is an extreme racial slur.

It is a disgrace, and extremely irresponsible for an elected leader and religious figure to promote racial hatred, and to encourage the vilification of an entire community of people.

"It is appalling that Bahrain is willing to rest on the benefits of these people's hard work, and often their suffering, but that they refuse to live with them in equality and dignity," BCHR vice president Nabeel Rajab said. "The solution is not to force migrant workers into ghettos, but to urge companies to improve living conditions for workers - and not to accomodate large numbers of workers in inadequate space, and improve the standard of living for them.

"As a country sitting on the United Nation's Human Rights Council, Bahrain is failing spectacularly to prove that it respects even the first article of the declaration, which states that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights"."

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state"." The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families advocates non-discrimination between nationals and migrant workers with regards to human rights, and article 39 specifically states that "migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to liberty of movement in the territory of the State of employment and freedom to choose their residence there".

Recommendations:

  • We STRONGLY urge Parliament to vote against this flawed and ultimately racist proposal.
  • We encourage the council of representatives to work on methods that will enforce decent standards of living for migrant workers, which will decrease the overcrowdedness of their residencies and improve health and living conditions of the workers.
  • We demand that MP Shaikh Nasser Al Fadhala retract his disgraceful remarks and issue an apology.
  • We call on the council of representatives to set a good example for citizens and to promote harmony and peaceful relations between the various communities living in Bahrain, instead of exploiting people's prejudices and fears.