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Lebanon arrests man for trying to sell a migrant worker on Facebook

The case has sparked anger in Nigeria, with officials requesting an investigation into the incident

April 24, 2020 at 11:49 am

A man suspected of putting a Nigerian migrant domestic worker up for sale on a Facebook page used to trade everyday items has been arrested by Lebanese security forces.

The suspect was apprehended yesterday by Lebanon’s General Security Agency. The organisation said an investigation into the incident had been launched and warned that advertising people online violates the country’s human trafficking laws.

Adding, the advertisements are illegal as they “fall under the crime of human trafficking and the publisher is subject to prosecution before the courts”.

Minister for Justice Marie-Claude Najem on Wednesday ordered the judiciary to follow up on the case. Najem said the case showed a “blatant violation of human dignity”.

While the minister’s office released a statement advising that anyone advertising domestic workers online would be prosecuted.

An account under the name Wael Jerro posted pictures of the Nigerian woman’s passport, with the capitation, “Domestic worker of African citizenship (Nigerian) for sale with a new residency and full legal papers”, on a page named Buy and Sell in Lebanon.

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The post added, “She’s 30-year-old, active and very clean”, listing the woman’s price as $1,000. The date of the post remains unclear but it has since been deleted.

The case has sparked anger in Nigeria, with officials requesting an investigation into the incident.

Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okha-Donli, said on Twitter: “I condemn this illicit advertisement of a Nigerian lady. Nobody deserves to be enslaved by another… NAPTIP will do everything possible to ensure her safe return.”

The case has once again put a spotlight on the conditions of some 250,000 migrant domestic workers living in Lebanon under the kafala system.

Kafala is a migration sponsorship scheme which ties the legal residency of domestic workers to their employment. The system has frequently been condemned for leaving domestic workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

In 2017, Lebanon’s General Security forces said approximately two domestic workers die every week, often as a result of botched escape or suicide attempts.

Former Labour Minister Camille Abousleiman termed the practice “modern-day slavery”, but while officials have sought to reform the system, activists say the abuse will continue until it is completely abolished.

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