Although little information regarding the country’s immigration detention system is available, data collected by the GDP over the past years shows that the country has used at least five facilities to hold immigration detainees, including prisons and detention centres (see the GDP’s Bahrain immigration detention profile). In 2017, the country had around 820,000 international migrants, around 54.86 percent of the country’s population. It is estimated that 60,000 undocumented migrants were present in the country in 2018.
According to GDP partner Migrant-Rights.org, which has posted a dedicated page updating responses by all GCC countries to Covid-19 and its impact on migrant workers in the gulf, the government of Bahrain has taken a series of measures that affect migrant workers in the country, including with respect to detention. In particular, according to Migrant-Rights.org:
– Bahraini MP Masoumeh Abdel-Rahim put forward a proposal to restrict hourly domestic work, adding that every such worker must have a medical examination certificate confirming they do not have the virus.
– Bahrain is considering a proposal to impose a curfew from 6PM to 5AM to ensure people remain at home outside of usual work hours. It is unclear how the many migrants who work outside of those hours will be affected.
– Bahrain has released 300 Bangladeshi migrant workers from prison.
Negative attitudes towards migrant workers have now risen in the country. Locals have protested through social media posts and videos against migrants being treated in government quarantine facilities in Sitra. Yet, almost half of all nurses in Bahrain’s public healthcare sector are migrants and the proportion is even larger in the private sector. An ICU nurse volunteering to work with Bahrain’s Covid-19 campaign told Migrant-Rights.org that unlike Bahraini health care workers, migrant nurses do not receive any hazard pay or compensation.
- Gulf Labour Markets and Migration, “Bahrain: Population by Nationalit (Bahraini/non-Bahraini), Sex and Age Groups (2017),” January 2018, http://gulfmigration.org/bahrain-population-nationality-bahraini-non-bahraini-sex-age-groups-2017/
- Gulf Daily News, “Dhaka Delegation in Talks Over Clamp on Illegal Workers,” 17 April 2018, http://blog.lmra.bh/en/2018/04/17/dhaka-delegation-in-talks-over-clamp-on-illegal-workers/#more-3571
- Migrant-Rights.org, “GCC Covid-19 Policies Need to Better Protect Migrant Workers from Infections and Other Related Vulnerabilities,” 31 March 2020, https://www.migrant-rights.org/2020/03/gcc-covid-19-policies-need-to-better-protect-migrant-workers-from-infections-and-other-related-vulnerabilities/
- Migrant-Rights.org, “The Covid-19 Crisis is Fueling More Racist Discourse Towards Migrant Workers in the Gulf,” 5 April 2020, www.migrant-rights.org/2020/04/the-covid-19-crisis-is-fueling-more-racist-discourse-towards-migrant-workers-in-the-gulf/
- Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention in Bahrain,” https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/bahrain
- Jau Central Prison in Bahrain, (https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/bahrain/detention-centres/1889/jau-prison-jaw-prison,-central-prison)