Hopes dim for travel ban man in Bahrain
Manama, April 13, 2014
A father of three who has been detained in an immigration jail for almost six months says he is losing hope of ever returning home to his family.
The 34-year-old says he is desperate to go back to the Philippines after a court banned him from travelling because of a BD5,700 ($14,907) debt to his previous employer, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Speaking to the GDN from the Nationality, Passport and Residence Authority (NPRA) Temporary Detention Centre, he said he was desperate to be released from prison so he could find work and start to pay back his debts.
"I just want to return home to my family," said the man, who asked to remain anonymous.
"My three children are very young - just four, five and six years old - and I can't even work to support them anymore.
"If they would release me from prison I could secure work in Bahrain, pay off my debts and eventually return home.
"I am begging the authorities, please help me. I have been locked up here since last October and I am desperate for help."
The engineer moved to Bahrain in 2010 to work for Saudi company International Filter Centre (IFC), which has an office in Bahrain.
After almost two years he resigned and booked a flight home, but four days before his flight he was arrested and charged with disclosing company secrets.
He was found guilty, sentenced to four months in prison and scheduled for deportation on completion of his sentence.
However, after completing his jail term he was told he had a travel ban and transferred to the immigration prison on October 21 last year.
He has been languishing there ever since.
"My case is ongoing and so far I have had no legal representation," he said. "I managed to find a new sponsor in December who wanted to secure a work visa and employ me.
"We got all the documentation together, but the authorities refused to release me from prison because of my deportation order - so my one chance to get work and pay off my debt has gone.
"Now I am just stuck here waiting for I don't know what."
He joined around 20 other inmates of various nationalities earlier this year on a hunger strike in the hope that his case would be dealt with.
Mamerto Juanite from the Bahrain chapter of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) said the organisation had been providng him with financial support.
"He has three children that have suffered and they have had to stop going to school because of this situation," he said.
"We have known him for a long time and believe he is innocent, which is why we give him financial support in order to provide food for his children."
However, IFC general manager Ahmed Buhleiqah claimed that while he was sympathetic to his former employee's plight, he had to seek the travel ban as his business lost revenue because of the trade secrets that were revealed.
"We discovered that while he was working for us in 2012 he was working for another engineering company who were competing with us," he said.
"There was another employer involved and they were passing on our trade secrets, allowing this other company to generate more than BD100,000.
"This is money we want to get back and this is why he has a travel ban and we are taking action through the courts.
"His family in the Philippines have sent me an e-mail explaining their situation, but unfortunately we can't just forget about it.
"Everyone is aware of the rules and regulations, so if you violate them then you have to face the consequences.
"However, at the moment no one is benefiting from this situation and I would like to see the case resolved as soon as possible as it has been going on for a very long time."
A spokeswoman for the Nationality, Passport and Residence Authority (NPRA) said it was in the process of negotiating the inmate's deportation with the courts.
The GDN reported on Thursday that one inmate at the same detention centre had issued a direct appeal to Indian Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar.
In correspondence copied to the GDN he claimed he had been waiting more than a year to return home after completing a prison sentence for a bounced cheque.
However, he has an outstanding debt of BD50,000, which he is unable to pay off. - TradeArabia News Service