Middle East: End ‘Sponsored’ Gateway to Human Trafficking

(Washington, DC) – Governments across the Middle East should reform the kafala (sponsorship) system that gives sponsoring employers substantial control over workers and leaves workers vulnerable to situations of trafficking and forced labor, Human Rights Watch said today. The US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, released today, ranked several countries in the region in its two lowest possible categories for efforts to combat human trafficking.

“For efforts to end forced labor and human trafficking to be successful, governments in the Middle East should reform the current visa sponsorship system,” said Nisha Varia, senior researcher in the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. “When employers have near-total control over migrants’ ability to change jobs, and sometimes to leave the country, workers can get trapped in exploitative situations in which they are forced to work without wages, get beaten, or face other abuses.”

English | June 14, 2010

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