Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, Migrant-Rights.org, an advocacy organisation that aims to advance the rights of migrant workers, reported that in Bahrain, due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Interior issued a circular ordering authorities not to detain migrants because of their irregular status until the end of the year. Another circular has also been issued whereby migrants should not be detained for minor or administrative offences. According to the source, these orders were present in every police station in Bahrain.
Migrant-Rights.org also reported that due to the coronavirus, hundreds of detained migrants were released from detention centres and prisons following a royal pardon, including 347 Bangledeshi nationals who were pardoned in April 2020 and repatriated to Bangladesh (see 19 April Bangladesh update on this platform). Although there was no information about whether safeguards had been put in place to assist people after their release from detention, official news agencies reported that Covid-19 tests were being carried out at detention centres. Removals from the country were also reportedly halted mainly due to travel restrictions and border closures of countries of origin. In some cases however, organised deportation flights did take place to some countries, including Bangladesh and India, during the pandemic.
As reported in a previous update on the country (see 19 April update on this platform), even though little information regarding the country’s immigration detention system is available, data collected by the GDP shows that the country has used at least five facilities to hold immigration detainees. In 2017, the country had around 820,000 international migrants, which represents nearly 55 percent of Bahrain’s total population.
On 9 April, Reuters reported that in a statement to them, the Bahraini government said it was “absolutely committed” to protecting those in its prison system and that “testing of the prison population is conducted regularly. To date there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bahrain’s prisons.”
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Bahrain, January 2016, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/bahrain#country-report
- A. E. Yaakoubi, “In Overcrowded Cells, Bahrain’s Political Prisoners Fear Coronavirus Threat,” Reuters, 9 April 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-bahrain-prisons/in-overcrowded-cells-bahrains-political-prisoners-fear-coronavirus-threat-idUSKCN21R1JC
- Migrant-Rights.org logo, (Migrant-Rights.org, accessed on 28 September 2020, https://www.migrant-rights.org/)