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UN rights expert warns of potential Lebanon slavery

UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery Gulnara Shahinian [official profile] on Monday said that the Lebanese government must create more legal protections [press release] for some 200,000 domestic workers in the country. Without more regulations, Shahinian said, some could be forced into domestic servitude and be subject to physical and psychological abuse. "I met with women who had been forced to work long hours without any remuneration or valid contract; physically and sexually abused; and morally harassed by constantly being insulted, humiliated and belittled," Shahinian said in the press release. He urged the government to ensure that the victims had access to justice.

Last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for a renewed international commitment to eradicate all forms of slavery [JURIST report]. Ban's comments took place on the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade [press release], which is held annually pursuant to General Assembly resolution A/62/L.32 [text, PDF]. In his statement, Ban said that the fight against slavery continues even though the practice may now take different forms than it has in the past. Also last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Lebanon to improve its judicial system [JURIST report] by providing mechanisms to better protect the basic rights of domestic workers [press release] and more ardently prosecuting those who violate them. In June, JURIST guest columnist and head of Student Commentary Megan McKee argued that Lebanon must do more to protect the rights of migrant workers [JURIST Dateline report] in that country.

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