MORE than 45 manpower agencies have been closed in Bahrain over the past four years for breaching operating rules.
That is an average of around one every month.
They were shut down by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), which initiated legal action against 13 of them for alleged human trafficking.
“Recruitment agencies are a regulated business,” said LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi.
“If they stick within the parameters of the regulations they continue, or else they will be stopped.
“We have shut down more than 45 recruitment agencies in the past four years and referred 13 of them to the Public Prosecution on the suspicion of human trafficking.”
Owners of manpower firms must deposit a minimum BD10,000 guarantee with the LMRA, which can then be used to compensate injured parties in the event of a complaint – protecting both recruits and those who hire them.
The first case of a security deposit being used to compensate victims of a manpower agency was reported last month, after 23 complaints were lodged against the company.
Mr Al Absi said that case came to light after the LMRA launched a campaign asking people to name and shame badly performing manpower agencies.
“We are not targeting those who function within the boundaries of the law, who will receive full support,” he added.
“Only those who operate outside the law, which will first be warned, then face administrative action and then their licence will be revoked.”
Meanwhile, Mr Al Absi urged people to deal only with the 124 licensed recruitment offices listed on the LMRA’s website.
Those closed this year include Amaken Manpower Services and Al Mashriq Manpower, which had their licences revoked in January for “severe human rights violations”.
The firms were found to have engaged in practices described as “borderline human trafficking”.
A US State Department report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) released in June stated 20 agencies were closed last year alone, three for contravening the Labour Law and 17 for non-compliance with LMRA regulations.