U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Lebanon

Lebanon (Tier 2)

Lebanon is a destination country for African and Asian women trafficked into involuntary servitude as domestic servants. Many of these women are contracted as household workers; some Eastern European women are contracted as dancers in adult clubs. All of these are required by law to have bona fide work contracts and sponsors. Individuals from these groups become victims of trafficking when their rights under the contracts are denied or violated or when they find themselves victims of abuse. Some of the abuses that these workers might experience are late or nonpayment of wages, physical and sexual abuse, lack of freedom of movement, and confiscation of their passports. Workers who run away from an abusive work environment automatically become illegal and subject to detention and deportation, because their visa is valid only as long as they are working for their sponsors. When the sponsor is the abuser and the victim has nowhere to go, the latter often ends up in a government detention facility.

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. During 2004, Lebanon signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with two international NGOs to operate a safe house for migrant workers who are victims of abuse – including involuntary servitude – and began referring trafficking victims to the safe house. It granted IOM permission to open an office in early 2005, and it allows government-salaried social workers to accompany victims during interviews by immigration authorities. Lebanon also granted out-of-visa-status workers who were victims of abuse permission to stay up to two months to assist in the investigation of their cases and the prosecution of their abusers and implemented screening and referral procedures for trafficking cases. Lebanon needs to develop and implement a national plan of action against trafficking, appoint a national coordinator to oversee its anti-trafficking activities, prosecute and punish abusive employers using existing criminal statutes, and cease detaining and penalizing trafficking victims for running away from conditions of involuntary servitude.


During the reporting period, the Government of Lebanon took minimal steps to prosecute trafficking and related cases. Lebanon does not have specific legislation criminalizing trafficking, though it has other laws that can be used effectively to address trafficking crimes. The Ministry of Justice and the Office of the State Prosecutor lag behind in acknowledging and actively combating trafficking. In December 2004, the Surete Generale granted amnesty and waived penalties for up to 1,700 South Asians who did not hold valid visas, thereby facilitating their return home. The Ministry of Labor closed 11 employment agencies for fraudulent practices or mistreatment of workers and took administrative actions against another 18. In addition, it adjudicated 35 contract disputes, 23 in favor of the workers. However, there is evidence that a far greater number of cases go unresolved, and workers are sometimes repatriated without receiving outstanding wages. Similarly, the government has not investigated reports of suspicious deaths of Philippine and Ethiopian domestic workers. The government has not prosecuted or punished any abusive employers, despite evidence of physical and sexual abuse of domestic workers. Lebanon should revamp its prosecution efforts to more effectively combat trafficking.


The Government of Lebanon markedly improved its efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the reporting period. As noted above, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with international NGOs "CARITAS" and "International Catholic Migration Commission" for the opening of a safe house for trafficking victims. The government also began allowing government-salaried social workers to assist foreign workers during interrogations by immigration officials, and it granted source country embassies improved access to victim detention facilities. In 2004, the government repatriated 147 foreign workers in cooperation with NGOs and source countries.


In 2004, the Government of Lebanon notably increased its anti-trafficking prevention activities. It produced and distributed booklets and brochures spelling out regulations governing migrant workers, including descriptions of their rights and responsibilities; produced and distributed pamphlets on trafficking to inform victims about various sources of assistance; and markedly improved its cooperation with NGOs and source country embassies in protection and repatriation efforts. Source country representatives, NGOs, academics, and volunteers formed a working group to work with the government to standardize employment contracts and to provide an arrival seminar and a pre-departure debriefing to migrant workers.


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