More than 5, 000 expatriates were deported from Bahrain in the past three years for violating the Kingdom’s labour laws, it was recently revealed.
According to the latest statistics released by the Supreme Judicial Council, 5, 294 expats were sentenced to deportation after they were convicted in various cases related to the violation of the work titles mentioned in their residency permits between the years 2015-2018.
The figures showed that 16 expatriates were deported between January 1 and March 13 this year. It was also proved that 1, 022 were deported in 2017, while the highest number recorded was 2, 724, the total number of expats convicted and deported in 2015.
This was unfolded within the reply of the Supreme Judicial Council to queries of the Services Committee in the Council of Representatives, which is planned to vote this week on a bill that shows more leniency towards convicted expats by scrapping compulsory deportation as a penalty.
Submitted by MP Mohammed Al Maarifi last January, the bill aims to amend a clause in Act 19 of the year 2006 with regard to the regulation of the labour market. The proposed amendment scraps the existing text in the law which stipulates compulsory deportation of foreign workers found guilty of “engaging in any work in the Kingdom without a work permit issued in accordance with the provisions of this act”. “In the event of conviction, the court shall order the deportation of the foreign worker from the Kingdom and the prohibition of his re-entry either permanently or for a temporary period of not less than three years,” reads the clause in the existing law.
The proposed amendment suggests fining convicts BD100 and granting judges the jurisdiction to deport the convicts in accordance with their offence, instead of mandatorily deporting them as per the instructions of the current law. According to Al Maarifi, the bill would achieve social justice that’s instructed by the Kingdom’s constitution, considering the humanitarian circumstances of some of the convicted expats requiring that they’re not deported from the country and granting the Judiciary Authority discretionary power whether to deport the convict or not.
The committee received the proposed law and thoroughly discussed it with the related establishments, including the Supreme Judicial Council, Interior Ministry and Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), in addition to the Legislative and Legal Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committees in the council. LMRA rejected the bill and warned that “it may encourage some foreign workers to violate the law”.
The authority also added that “if the bill is implemented, it would weaken the legal tools utilised by the Kingdom to combat the irregular employment issue”. The bill was supported by Interior Ministry and both parliamentary committees. However, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee advised to maintain the existing text which stipulates the prevention of deported expats from re-entering the Kingdom for at least three years.
After discussing the matter for almost five months with the related authorities, Services Committee members decided to approve the bill, which will be voted on this Tuesday during the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Representatives, in the presence of representatives of the government.
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