Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
- Amend the labor code to provide comprehensive legal protections for domestic workers, and for the Ministry of Labor to create an inspection unit tasked with monitoring working conditions for migrant domestic workers.
- Reform sponsorship laws that require the consent of the employer to change sponsors. Facilitate transfer of sponsorship by making temporary, employment-based visas issued to a migrant nonspecific with respect to the migrant's employer.
- Enact legislation that sets up a quick and simplified dispute resolution mechanism to settle salary disputes between employers and migrant workers. In addition, grant migrant workers temporary visas (or an alternative to detention) while they have pending legal procedures.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The following is a listing solutions and measures meant to secure the fundamental rights of female migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. These proposals have been collected in reports, studies and press releases from Human Right Watch, the International Labour Organization and Caritas-Lebanon. They address to the Lebanese government, foreign missions of the sending countries, private and public institutions or associations, businesses and NGOs.
- Revise labour laws to include migrant domestic workers on an equal basis as Lebanese citizens regarding to labour international protection standards.
- Revise sponsorship laws (make temporary professional visas non specific about the employer so that the migrant worker can escape him without losing legal status; eliminate exit laissez-passer that require consent of the employer).
- Have Lebanon ratify and enforce the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
- Establish a unified autonomous governmental bureau responsible for policy-making and information-gathering on migrant workers in the country (guidelines for other departments; data collecting through polls and inquiries; cooperation of migrants’ rights group…).
- Inter-government cooperation between Lebanon and sending countries to improve the standardized work contract (set up in January 2009) which should be written in the native language of both the employer and the employee and which should enshrine more strictly several fundamental guarantees (remuneration, working conditions, freedom of movement, conservation of passports, work and rest hours…) and implement legal mechanisms to enforce it on a daily basis.
- Monitoring working and living conditions of female migrant domestic workers in Lebanese households for example through regular meetings between an appointed labour inspector and the worker alone or through unexpected checking visits by officials, thus enforcing the standard employment contract’s provisions.
- Sign-up bilateral agreements for swift repatriation in case of serious abuse or withholding of the worker’s identity papers by the employer.
- Arrange « safe houses » (particularly in sending countries’ embassies) providing legal and social assistance to female migrant domestic workers and their children (accommodation for “runaway” maids; health care; trauma counseling; free of charge lawyers; recreational activities; awareness sessions on migrant’s rights and mechanisms of complaint and redress; vocational training and schooling; activities shared with Lebanese people in order to promote inter-nationality dialogue and respect).
- Expand microfinance loans allowing female migrant domestic workers to pay off their debts at home and thus giving them the opportunity to escape financial traps (which restrain them to accept abuse and appalling working and living conditions) and to pay for migration costs thus lowering financial pressure on Lebanese employers (whom therefore should be less keen on protecting their investment by seizing the maid’s passport and restricting her freedom of movements).
- Provide police forces with training to identify and respond to abuse against migrant domestic workers (conduct real investigations rather than classifying abuse cases; properly investigate cases of suicide among domestic workers; make sure abused workers fill in complaints form; send runaways to their foreign diplomatic mission rather than drive them back to their employer).
- Provide migrant domestic workers with information about their rights (and especially detainees for false accusation of theft or illegal status after running away).
- Improve courts liability and efficiency regarding cases of abuse against foreign domestic workers (ensure the presence of competent translators during legal proceedings; granting abused domestic workers with free legal assistance and representation; clarify and enforce complaint mechanisms; establish precedents regarding such strategic issues as withholding of passports and wages, physical and psychological abuse, poor living conditions and exploitative working hours and chores; mete out and implement proper penalties for employers and agencies violating migrant’s and laborer’s rights; invoke adequate provisions within criminal law and international conventions).
- Raise national awareness and attention on this issue (set up public media campaigns, focusing for example on drawing parallel with the Lebanese people’s own experience of emigration and on fighting racism which is deeply linked with female domestic workers’ lot, and get judges to make public statements and warnings).
- Enact special clauses within the staff rules of Lebanese private and public institutions, associations and firms and ensuring the registration and decent treatment of foreign domestic employees under threat of disciplinary measures.
- Regulate and monitor employment agencies (license-accreditation procedures; hold agents responsible for their actions; set forth clearly defined fees and placement practices…)
- Ensure any medical testing or administration of contraceptive medication is performed with informed consent and respecting confidentiality of medical information
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A meeting was held between the “syndicate of bringing in maids” in Lebanon and the consul of Madagascar, to discuss the way to cooperate, following the decision of the Government of Madagascar to ban sending Malagasy women maids to Lebanon as it would – according to the article published on the National News Agency website – have negative repercussions on the sector and on a large number of Lebanese families. An accord was reached, always according to the same article, for cooperation between the syndicate and the consul to control the unfortunate excesses that took place recently.
Ethiopian Suicides comments: I wonder if they meant suicide, torture, deprivation of salary and of freedom of movement, by "unfortunate excesses". The syndicate of importing maids is clearly fearing to loose money after several countries banned their women nationals to come to Lebanon.
“نقابة اصحاب مكاتب استقدام الخادمات بحثت مع قنصل مدغشقر سبل التعاون,” National News Agency, December 8, 2009, http://www.nna-leb.gov.lb/phpfolder/loadpage.php?page=JOU47.html
عقدت نقابة اصحاب مكاتب استقدام الخادمات في لبنان، اجتماعا مع قنصل دولة مدغشقر في لبنان، وتم البحث في موضوع قرار سلطات مدغشقر بمنع وحظر ارسال عاملات منازل الى لبنان وارتداداته السلبية على القطاع، وعلى قسم كبير من العائلات اللبنانية، وتم الاتفاق بموجبه على تفعيل التعاون بين النقابة ودولة مدغشقر ممثلة بالقنصلية العامة في لبنان لضبط التجاوزات المؤسفة التي حصلت في الآونة الاخيرة.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I was busy cooking dinner, when we started hearing screams - only one person, repeatedly, a female voice, screaming - maybe 10-15 seconds. This is not normal, so I ran out to the balcony to see if I could see what was going on. As I got onto the balcony, I looked over at the next building, and saw something, fairly large coming from a balcony on about the 6th floor. The window was open (actually may have been a door, but not sure in my mind) was open. I looked down toward the parking lot to see if I could see what had fallen, and couldn't see everything, as our balcony doesn't have a clear view. I could see reflections of a few people off the windows of a vehicle, and they weren't reacting very much, seemed sort of like they were checking things out, but disinterested. so i figured it was just a piece of furniture, tv, something like that. There was no screaming or response of any kind. This was around 6 or 615 I'm guessing. Around 8, my husband and I left the building, and we ran into a neighbor, who told us that a domestic worker had "thrown herself" from the balcony of the 6th floor. She was corrected (in Arabic) by another neighbor, who said it was a visitor of the domestic worker, her sister or something. Not sure what the actual story is. When we left the building and walked into the parking lot area, there was a policeman standing at the front of the vehicle next to where she fell, seemingly not doing anything. The woman was still on the ground with just a blanket covering her. This was almost 2 hours later. When we returned home around 1230 in the morning, there was a car parked in the space where she had been, and the area was wet, so it looked like they had "cleaned up" the area.
(this testimony was published on a Facebook event page "Vigil in Hamra". The December 2009 event was a vigil at the site of the death of the migrant worker who is mentioned in the testimony above)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Yesterday, Ziad Baroud, Lebanon’s Minister of Interior, informed the ambassadors of Philippine, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka that his ministry will be taking steps towards the protection of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. Such steps include moving the General Security prisons from Adlieh area (a prison under a traffic bridge) to another location more respective of human rights, as well as more thorough investigations in cases of death of these workers. Sources to Al-Akhbar newspaper added that the right of foreign maids to access courts will be guaranteed.
Note: this is quite an interesting development. Will the minister be up to the challenge of reforming the system of entry, stay and exit of migrant domestic workers,which has proven terribly faulty?
- “العاملات الأجنبيات: وزارة الداخلية لحمايتهن والنيبال تمنع العمل في لبنان,” Al-Akhbar, December 2, 2009, http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/167511/print
- “Baroud discusses migrant rights with embassies,” The Daily Star, December 2, 2009, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=109315