Cablegate: Bahrain: Progress On Tip Short-Term Action Plan

DE RUEHMK #0745/01 2141111
O 021111Z AUG 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

C. STATE 81216

Sensitive but unclassified; please protect accordingly. Not
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1. (SBU) The following describes actions by the GOB since
the end of the reporting period for the 2007 TIP Report,
including the 60-day period of the Short-Term Action Plan
following Bahrain's placement on Tier 3. In addition to
activities initiated entirely by the GOB, International
Organization for Migration (IOM) representatives met with
government officials May 27-30 and conducted a needs
assessment, leading to strengthened cooperation in several
areas to combat trafficking. Over the next 9-12 months,
there are several activities planned through this extensive
GOB/IOM collaboration with the goal of reaching and training
over 200 GOB officials and representatives from civil
society. The discussion below has been organized by topic as
outlined in the Short-Term Action Plan (ref C), and nearly
all references to IOM relate to the USG-funded IOM program
that will be conducted in coming months.

Criminal Prosecutions

2. (SBU) Until the passage of the comprehensive
anti-trafficking law (see para 6), Post expects to see the
GOB continue to prosecute traffickers under laws against
forced prostitution, facilitating prostitution or managing an
establishment which facilitates prostitution, and forced
labor. Limitations in the judicial case management system
make specific identification of trafficking cases difficult.
However, the Ministry of Justice is in the process of
automating the system, thereby making identification easier
in the future. The GOB/IOM collaboration includes deploying
an informational technology (IT) expert on
counter-trafficking database design and management. The
expert will conduct an assessment of the data
collection/management process currently in place. The expert
will then work with IT employees within the Ministry of
Justice and the Public Prosecution Office to design and
implement a database to monitor and report on prosecutions of
traffickers with the ultimate goal of producing monthly
reports for interministerial task force members.

3. (SBU) In mid-July, two Eastern European women (from
Ukraine and Belarus) escaped from an exploitative work
situation, in which they were allegedly forced into
prostitution, and reported their situation to the Bahraini
police. The women had reportedly been working as waitresses
in a three-star hotel restaurant and were also forced to
perform sexual favors for clients. According to the women,
they, along with approximately 20 other Eastern European
women, were transported to and from their place of work each
day under the watchful eyes of security guards and locked in
their accommodations when not working. After taking their
information and identifying them as victims of trafficking,
the police took them to the government shelter for
protection. IOM assisted with their repatriation and within
a few days the women had left Bahrain. PolOff followed up
with the Public Prosecution on the case and found that the
Public Prosecution investigation was ongoing and that arrest
warrants had been issued for two Bahraini men, including a
brother of the hotel owner. Although the two men had
departed the country before the arrest warrants had been
issued, the Public Prosecution generated an Interpol note,
and there is hope the men will be caught and brought to
justice. The Public Prosecution also passed information to
the vice squad so that they could look into the hotel's

4. (SBU) In early July, a Bahraini hotel owner was arrested
in a sting operation along with six foreign women who were
alleged to have been prostitutes. One of the women was
identified to be in her early teens and was taken to the
shelter as a victim of forced prostitution. She was cared
for at the shelter and then traveled home. The other women
were questioned and were determined to have been working of
their own accord. The hotel owner was arrested, charged with
the felony of facilitating the rape of a minor, among other
prostitution-related charges, and is due to appear in court.

MANAMA 00000745 002 OF 003

Identification Protocol

5. (SBU) IOM will bring in a high-level expert consultant to
help the interministerial task force better understand the
entire victim identification process to address shortcomings
in victim identification in Bahrain. The expert will
strengthen the task force by developing an effective work
plan and a monitoring/reporting system using database
statistics on court decisions and sentences, in addition to
working with the group to develop procedures for the assisted
voluntary return of victims. IOM will also offer two
training programs for 50 people selected from the government
shelter staff, community center staff, and civil society to
include topics such as TIP identification and awareness,
shelter referral procedures, psycho-social counseling, and
center management, among others.

Anti-Trafficking Legislation, Policy

6. (SBU) Comprehensive anti-trafficking draft legislation
has been completed and fully approved by the Cabinet. It was
forwarded to the Council of Representatives (COR) in May for
further action. The COR adjourned May 31, beginning its
summer recess. The COR will take up discussion of the
legislation when it reconvenes, likely in October.

7. (U) The GOB granted a comprehensive amnesty August 1 (ref
A) to illegal expatriates, permitting them to regularize
their status with their employer and the GOB or return home
without having to pay any overstay penalty fines.
Significantly, the amnesty includes expatriates who entered
the country and searched for work on tourist "visit" visas,
one population most vulnerable to exploitation and
trafficking. The government seems not only very keen to
clean up the labor market and regularize all illegal expats,
but also to crack down on abuses by influential Bahrainis,
who have allegedly been allowed to bring in hundreds of
individuals on tourist visas only to turn them loose to look
for work in order to pay off debts from money paid to
recruiters or middlemen.

Government Shelter Access

8. (SBU) The shelter referral policy was somewhat stringent
when the shelter first opened, relying entirely on referrals
from law enforcement officials who encountered cases of abuse
and trafficking. Post has facilitated meetings between the
director of the government-run shelter and both civil society
groups and source-country embassy staff members. Through
these meetings, the shelter director has come to understand
more fully the varied situations and issues faced by victims.
The director has welcomed alternate referral mechanisms
through direct contact by embassy officials or NGO
representatives. To date the shelter has served 30
expatriate women who have experienced abuse.

Law Enforcement Training

9. (SBU) In a GOB/IOM jointly-sponsored event, IOM conducted
a two-week training in January 2007 specifically designed for
law enforcement officers. Officers from the immigration
service, the vice squad, judges, public prosecutors, shelter
staff, and other government officials participated in the
training. IOM has included in its work plan of upcoming
activities another training for 30 officials in law
enforcement, the Ministries of Labor and Justice, and
prosecutors from the Public Prosecution.

Public Awareness

10. (SBU) On May 29, Bahrain convened a symposium on
trafficking at which it brought together nearly 100 people,
the largest number of local stakeholders ever assembled on
the issue of trafficking. Attendees included embassy
representatives from source countries (Bangladesh, India,
Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines), members
of women,s rights groups and other civil society groups,

MANAMA 00000745 003 OF 003

government officials, members of parliament, and other
concerned citizens. Each government ministry that plays a
part in combating trafficking presented the steps it has
taken to confront the problem. In addition, both IOM and
prominent local NGO the Migrant Worker Protection Society,
presented the capabilities they bring to combat trafficking.

11. (SBU) The IOM work plan includes working with Ministry
of Social Development staff and source-country embassies to
develop updated informational brochures for workers to
receive as they enter the country and materials for families
who hire expatriate workers to educate them about the proper
treatment of domestic workers. IOM will conduct a Train the
Trainers program that will educate housewives who have
expatriate housemaids to make them more conscious of
appropriate treatment and conditions for domestic workers.
IOM will also conduct an awareness training for 30
journalists from the Arabic press with the intent of
increasing the exposure of the Bahraini public to trafficking
issues and the battle against TIP.

Post Conducted Awareness Activity

12. (SBU) Post hosted a group concerned about trafficking
July 30, including human rights activists, a journalist, and
a source-country diplomat, to view the Frontline video
entitled "Sex Slaves." The event was very positively
received, and the discussion following the video was involved
and informative for all, bringing the focus onto Bahrain and
its trafficking problem. The journalist talked about many
women involved in prostitution in Bahrain whom she has
interviewed for investigative articles she has written. In
her experience, nearly all had chosen to practice
prostitution for the financial benefits. The diplomat from
the Thai Embassy explained that most of the women who go to
the embassy for help are women who are not well-educated and
are tricked into leaving Thailand chasing promises of making
large sums of money. Post plans to hold similar events in
the future.

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