U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lebanon
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lebanon, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d89867.html [accessed 10 October 2015]|
Lebanon (Tier 2)
Lebanon is a destination country for the trafficking of Asians and Africans – primarily women – for domestic servitude, and possibly for Eastern European women trafficked for sexual exploitation. Women from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Somalia, and Ethiopia enter Lebanon legally, but often find themselves subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude as domestic servants. An undetermined number of the domestic servants suffer physical and sexual abuse, nonpayment of wages, and withholding of passports that confines them to the employer's home. In 2005, the government and NGOs who work in this area reported less than 100 cases of abused foreign workers; experts, however, estimate that the true incidents of migrant worker abuse are considerably higher. Eastern European women come to Lebanon on "artiste" visas to work as adult entertainers, but may become victims of involuntary sexual servitude.
The Government of Lebanon does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government continued to refer abused domestic workers to a shelter run by a local NGO. In 2005, the government closed 10 employment recruitment agencies for violations of workers' rights, including physical abuse. Lebanon should enact a comprehensive law to specifically criminalize trafficking offenses and significantly increase criminal prosecutions of abusive employers and sex traffickers.
Over the last year, the Government of Lebanon did not significantly improve its inadequate record of prosecution of traffickers for domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation. Lebanon lacks a specific anti-trafficking law, although it can use other sections of the criminal code to prosecute traffickers. The government reported no prosecutions or convictions for trafficking offenses, despite numerous complaints of abuse of foreign workers. Expatriate workers are not encouraged to participate in trials, and often return to their countries of origin prior to completion of trials. Under administrative laws, the Ministry of Labor closed down 10 recruitment agencies for violations of workers' rights, including physical assault. In addition to enacting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and increasing prosecutions of traffickers, Lebanon should also better regulate employment agencies that knowingly provide false information regarding wages and conditions to prospective employees.
During the year, the Government of Lebanon took several steps to improve protection of trafficking victims. Lebanon signed a memorandum of understanding with a local NGO to operate a shelter for trafficking victims, which provides medical, psychological, and legal services. The government has also permitted social workers from this NGO to screen trafficking victims in the government holding center for illegal workers and to provide legal aid during judicial interviews. Additionally, the Ministry of Justice and Surete Generale, the Lebanese security service responsible for migrant workers, conducted a two-week course, in conjunction with the International Organization of Migration, to train 32 officers in the most effective means to combat trafficking. Due to mistreatment of foreign workers who are unable to leave abusive employers under the sponsorship system – which makes a worker very dependent on his or her Lebanese sponsor or employer – the government began allowing workers to change their employers; this change, however, is contingent upon the worker obtaining a release paper from the current employer, a step many employers may be unwilling to take. Although the officers of Surete Generale in some cases convinced suspect employers to grant this release, Lebanon should consider reforming the system to allow migrant employees the flexibility to switch employers without this requirement. The government should also assist those migrant workers who wish to file charges against abusive employers and provide them the means to remain in Lebanon until the legal process has run its course.
Lebanon made modest progress to prevent trafficking in persons over the year. Notably, the government signed a Protocol of Understanding with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Labor to establish education centers for domestic workers destined for Lebanon. The government also distributed booklets and brochures on workers' rights and recourses under Lebanese law, although some NGOs claim that these public awareness materials are not sufficiently disseminated. Lebanon should continue to work with IOM to expand the anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials.