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Mon 3 Jun 2013 09:29 AM

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Bahrain firms warned over passport violations

Senior gov't official says employers who withhold passports of workers will face legal action

Bahrain firms warned over passport violations
(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Bahraini employers who insist on withholding workers’ passports have been ordered to return them or face legal action.

Senior government official Sheikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa condemned employers who demanded to keep workers’ passports out of fear they would runaway.

"Employers should safeguard their rights by drafting clear employment contracts that is in the interest of both parties," Sheik Rashid, the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) Under-Secretary, was quoted as saying in local media.

"The employers' claims that workers might runaway or leave the country without their knowledge is not a civil way to tackle the issue as the passport is an owner's personal document and belongs to the country that issues it.

"If a worker runaway without the employer's knowledge, the case should be resolved through courts in co-ordination with the NPRA.”

Sheikh Rashid said Bahrain was working with labour-exporting countries to ensure expats remained in the Gulf kingdom while they were under employment contracts.

Another senior NPRA official, Colonel Ghazi Saleh Sinan, said withholding foreign workers' passports was illegal and if an employer refused to return a passport they could be taken to court.