Friday, March 23, 2012

Lebanon: Stop Abuse of Domestic Workers

Investigate Recent Suicide; Enact Labor, Immigration Protections

Human Rights Watch
March 23, 2012

"(Beirut) – Lebanese authorities should act quickly to reform restrictive visa regulations and adopt a labor law on domestic work to address high levels of abuse and deaths among migrant domestic workers, a group of eight concerned civil society groupssaid today. The government should also announce publicly the outcome of the investigation into the recent abuse and subsequent suicide of Alem Dechasa-Desisa, an Ethiopian domestic worker.

The eight groups are Human Rights Watch, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation, Anti Racism Movement, Amel Association International, Insan, Danish Refugee Council, and Nasawiya.

On March 8, 2012, Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI), a Lebanese television network, released a video filmed on February 24 by an anonymous bystander in which a labor recruiter physically abused Dechasa-Desisa outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut. As she protests, he and another man drag her into a car. LBCI later identified the man beating Dechasa-Desisa as Ali Mahfouz,the brother of the head of the recruiting agency that brought her to Lebanon. Mahfouz agreed to be interviewed on television and alleged that his brother’s agency had been trying to return her to her home country because she had mental health problems.....

Alem Dechasa-Desisa’s death is an outrage on two levels – the violent treatment she endured and the absence of safeguards that could have prevented this tragedy,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should adopt long overdue protections to end rampant abuses against domestic workers and bring down their death toll in the country.”....."

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