The Middle East is a treasure trove for oil and gas and is known to attract scores of migrant workers across the globe. In Lebanon, a migrant worker’s residency right is pinned to a citizen’s sponsorship, also known as the Kafala system. The Lebanese Labour Law explicitly excludes Lebanese Domestic Workers & Migrant Domestic Workers (hereinafter “MWDs”) from the purview of the its Domestic Labour Law. It is stated that such an exclusion is in violation of its International Obligations. Through this article the author endeavours to bring to the fore the injustices meted out to the MDWs through its domestic policy as well as the recent decision of the Shura Council, the Highest Administrative Court of the Country by keeping in abeyance the implementation of the New Unified Contract.

Lebanon’s Shura Council Decision: A Resurrection of Slavery

The Kafala system is a collection of laws, decrees, ministerial decisions, regulations and customary practices which governs the entry, exit and stay of the workers in Lebanon. This system grants a sponsor (“employer”) complete authority over a migrant worker (“worker”).

The migrant labour population consists of a wide spectrum of ethnicity, majority of them women, from Ethiopia, Nepal, Philippines, and Bangladesh. It is pertinent to note that in view of the inhumane working conditions, some the above-mentioned countries have banned the deployment of their citizen in Lebanon.

The Kafala system has been widely criticised as a modern form of slavery. Described as inherently abusive the sponsorship system is outside the purview of Lebanon’s domestic Labour law and has been often criticised as the ground of Human Rights violation.  

English | April 9, 2021



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