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Wed 1 Apr 2015 01:06 PM

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Watchdog mooted to monitor labour camps in Bahrain

Activists vow to set up regulator to oversee introduction of proposed new standards for labour accommodation

Watchdog mooted to monitor labour camps in Bahrain
(Image for illustrative purpose only)

Activists have vowed to set up a regulator to oversee the introduction of proposed new standards for labour accommodation in Bahrain.

The Gulf state has drafted legislation introducing fines and prison sentences for landlords who cram expat workers into tiny rundown properties, reported the Gulf Daily News.

Under the proposed rules, labour accommodation would provide a specified minimum standard of living: at least 3.7 sq m of space provided for each tenant and no more than eight people crammed into a single room, which must be at least 10 feet in height.

Faisal Fulad, secretary-general of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, reportedly told the newspaper he intended to form a body named Workers Housing Watch to monitor the implementation of the law.

“We believe the law must be applied in full and not just remain as ink on paper,” he said.

“Many foreign workers in Bahrain live in conditions that are unhealthy and dangerous.

“It is unfair to treat migrant labourers like this - we have lost enough lives due to unsafe housing conditions and cannot afford this any longer.”

He added: “The WHW will have representatives on the ground to take pictures and compile reports on the implementation of the law before sending these to the authorities.”

Mohammed Al Khozaee, chairman of Bahrain’s Capital Trustees Board, agreed. “We need more inspectors from the Labour Ministry and Labour Market Regulatory Authority to be out in [areas with high volumes of labour accommodation],” he said.

“They should be regularly checking [the housing] and violations should be reported.”

The new rules are the result of several campaigns for better quality workers’ housing in Bahrain, following reports of middle men subletting housing to up to 50 labourers at a time. And, two years ago, 13 workers reportedly died in a fire at a labour camp in Manama.

However, the amendments must be approved by parliament and the Shura Council before they can be introduced.

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