Lebanon has approved a new work contract allowing foreign domestic workers to resign and keep hold of their own passport, but activists say the exploitative "kafala" system remains in place.
Lebanon is abolishing its sponsorship system for domestic workers, which many have likened to slavery. According to local media, the decision is "an enormous step" in the fight for human rights.
The new Revised Standard Unified Contract for the Employment of Domestic Workers is a crucial first step in dismantling the kafala system in Lebanon
Lebanon has introduced changes to contract law for foreign domestic workers, news that has been initially welcomed by human rights groups but who say the controversial kafala system must end.
Lebanon’s Minister of Labour recently announced the new Standard Unified Contract for migrant domestic workers. The contract, developed by a Lebanese Steering Committee in cooperation with the Office of High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), is now set in place to protect the human rights of migrant domestic workers.
Amid an increasingly desperate situation for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, many of whom have been tossed out by their employers and are trying to return to their countries, the country’s outgoing labor minister took a step to strengthen foreign workers’ rights.
AMMAN (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Rights campaigners said the launch of a new contract for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon was a positive first step but that far deeper reform was needed to abolish the kafala sponsorship system they blame for widespread labor abuses.
Dozens of Gambian workers stranded in Lebanon for months were able to return home earlier this week despite a lack of support from their government, an NGO confirmed.
Lebanon caretaker Labor Minister Lamia Yammine Douaihy said on Friday that she has issued an order abolishing the country’s kafala system to ensure the rights of migrant and domestic workers are protected.
African low skilled workers in Lebanon have been exposed to multiple hardships over the past months. This is due to a multiplicity of factors which includes the economic and political instability in Lebanon which has led to depreciation of the currency, inflation and job losses with Lebanese nationals unable to afford workers; the historical sponsorship (Kafala) system which gives room for exploitation and abuse, the impact of COVID-19 which has led to increased pressure on workers particularly care and domestic work due to work-from-home arrangements at workplaces; and finally the explosion in Beirut.