Employer attacks migrant worker in Lebanon, sparking debate over kafala system – Middle East Monitor


A video showing a Lebanese man assaulting a foreign worker in a city in Lebanon has gone viral on social media, raising concerns about the lack of rights for foreign workers in the country and prompting activists to redouble their efforts to oppose the infamous kafala system.

In the video clip, the man – who is the employer – can be seen dragging the woman by the hair down the road and beating her as she screams. The incident took place in the town of Jouret el-Ballout, a predominantly Christian locality in central Lebanon.

Following the dissemination of the images, the man was arrested by court order and the case is currently under investigation, the testimony of the foreign worker would have been listened to and taken into account.

The mayor of Jouret el-Ballout, Issam Boujaoude, then published a statement on his Facebook account claiming that the woman had arrived at her employer before attempting to flee the same night. She was later arrested and arrested, then returned to the employment agency she was registered with, while the man was returned her money.

Boujaoude insisted that his city’s reputation must be preserved and that any attempt to harm it is simply “to garner views”. He added that “we are only interested in clarifying the facts without addressing labor laws and the kafala system, and the reality of the Lebanese employee has become much worse than that of the foreign worker.”

The mayor’s statement sparked a wave of criticism against him, with many ridiculing him for not questioning the kafala system and for claiming that foreign workers in the country are more privileged than Lebanese nationals in the crisis. current economic. He abolished his post as a result of the backlash.

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The incident sparked a resumption of debate around the kafala system, which human rights groups and activists condemn as an abusive system that does not adequately protect the rights of migrant workers.

Under the system, the worker is sponsored by his employer and is under his authority, without having access to his own passport, freedom of movement and the right to leave the country. The system, together with the general lack of legal protection, often results in the abuse and exploitation of workers by employers.

In September 2020, Lebanon’s interim government announced its intention to replace the kafala system with a new set of standard labor laws for foreign workers who would have protected their rights. A month later, however, a Lebanese court suspended those plans after the Federation of Recruitment Agencies appealed the change.

In a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week, he cited one of the main reasons for the failure to abolish the system as “it is a lucrative business for many people. implicated: A study found that the kafala system generates more than US $ 100 million per year. Recruitment agencies … forced labor and human trafficking generate US $ 57.5 million in revenue per year. “

He said the system and lack of rights for foreign workers “violate human rights treaties and labor conventions that Lebanon has signed, including those that abolish forced labor. They also violate the principle of non-discrimination and the right to just and favorable working conditions. . “

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