Event Reports

Building Bridges between Migrants and Lebanese to Combat Human Trafficking

Working towards the enhancement of protection for migrant workers and victims of human trafficking in Lebanon

On the occasion of the International Day of Migrant Workers on the 18th of December and in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in Lebanon, Caritas Lebanon Migrants Center (CLMC), under the patronage of the president of the Supreme Judicial Council, Jean Fahed, held a launching ceremony entitled “Building Bridges between Migrants and Lebanese to Combat Human Trafficking”, in an effort to raise awareness and advocacy and work towards the protection of migrant workers and victims of trafficking in Lebanon.

Many representatives from the Internal Security Forces, the General Security, as well as of various ministries attended the ceremony, in addition to the ambassadors and consuls of the countries of origin, representatives from the Beirut Bar Association, from International Organizations and the civil society, as well as members of various employment offices in Lebanon.

At the opening session, the head of the Rule of Law Programme in the Middle East and North Africa at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Lebanon,Mr. Peter Rimmele, Rev. Father Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon and the president of the Supreme Judicial Council, all emphasized the necessity of shedding more light into the topic of migrant workers and victims of trafficking and taking more concrete steps in enhancing their protection especially through the reinforcement of the existing laws and regulations in Lebanon, while stressing on the importance of the judiciary in ruling not only for the punishment of the perpetrators but also for the protection of the victims.

Human trafficking can be one of the worst outcomes of a range of abuses experienced by migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. These may also include violations of labor rights, as well as verbal, physical and even sexual abuse. Domestic workers in Lebanon routinely experience confiscation of their identity documents and restrictions on their freedom of movement and communications. Many of these problems stem from the kafala or sponsorship system in place in Lebanon. Under this system, immigrant laborers require a sponsor to work and remain in the country. Recruiting agencies in the workers’ home countries and in their destination countries are sometimes complicit in the problems associated with this system.

The animation clips that were shown during the event were also available in the form of booklets with a CD and distributed to all the attendees, presenting real stories from migrant workers who have been working in Lebanon but have faced many challenges and difficulties in the country.

At the end of the event, lawyer Antoine Hashem and social worker Hesen Sayeh from Caritas respectively presented the legal framework and occurring developments for migrant workers in Lebanon and the social services of the Migrant Center and the importance it represents for employers and domestic workers alike.