Lawyers Beyond Borders Conducts National Consultation in Lebanon

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Lawyers Beyond Borders Conducts National Consultation in Lebanon

Migrant Forum in Asia together with Caritas Lebanon Migrants Center organized the Lawyers Beyond Borders national consultation in Lebanon on March 13, 2016 at Padova Hotel bringing lawyers and advocates to talk about who are working on labour and human rights violation cases of migrant workers in the country. Lawyers joining the “local chapter” in Lebanon identify major and common areas of concern on the situations of migrant workers and collaborate with migrant support groups / civil society in Lebanon and with stakeholders in the countries of destination should they require support in understanding and applying legal policies. The meeting’s objectives include:

  • Discuss issues of migration, human rights and access to justice for migrant workers
  • Sharing of experiences among the lawyers and legal aid practitioners in Lebanon in terms of improving access to justice for migrant workers in the country.
  • Identify a common platform among lawyers in Lebanon that can mobilize actions to integrate migrants’ rights issues in their work and enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families in the country.

Noha Roukoss from CLMC talked about the Local labour policies and regulation, its mechanisms an challenges in Lebanon. An expert from the International Labour Organization Ms. Zeina Mezher, National coordinator of the labour migration programme discussed the implementation of ILO Labour Standards in the context of Lebanon. Atty. Henry Rojas, LBB Regional Coordinator, also discussed the process of cross border litigation in the context of a country of origin.

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Second Lawyers Beyond Borders Conference

10593203_10152727317539187_7302937966104189427_n 5-7 September 2014
Beirut, Lebanon

The Lawyers Beyond Borders network was established by MFA in 2011 in response to the crucial need for more fair and adequate legal redress mechanisms for migrants, and increased coordination among legal practitioners in countries of origin and destination. Members of the Lawyers Beyond Borders network focus on migrant workers’ rights violation cases in Asia (West Asia in particular), and they make efforts to facilitate access to justice and apply strategic litigation and policy advocacy to their work.

On 5-7 September, Migrant Forum in Asia and Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre organized the 2nd Lawyers Beyond Borders regional conference: focus on access to justice for the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. 45 representatives, advocates, members of the bar council, activists, mission representatives and various CSOs convened in Beirut, Lebanon for the regional conference. The attendees were composed of: 20  lawyers and advocates from countries Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Philippines; 25 Civil society representatives with 7 representatives from Lebanon; and Mission representatives from the Embassy of Bangladesh, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Embassy of Indonesia, and Embassy of Sri Lanka.

The momentum built from the first convening of the network and the ongoing collaboration and discussions through the online listserv highlight the importance of strengthening the action points developed in 2011. The  second conference gathered together existing and new members of the network to:

  1. Explore different areas of access to justice, including strategic litigation which aim to address grievances of and improve protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families in countries of origin and destination;
  2. Identify challenges in policy and national legal systems that limit or prevent migrant workers and    members of their families in accessing and reclaiming justice;
  3. Recommend ways forward in ensuring an unhindered access to justice to uphold labor rights and human rights of migrant workers and their families
  4. Further strengthen the Lawyers Beyond Borders program by enhancing the capacities and knowledge of the members and partners on national, regional and international human rights and labor rights mechanisms, and increasing interaction and collaboration in relation to access to justice in countries of origin and destination.

The sessions discussed country access to justice for migrants and families in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Philippines. Specific cases studies were also highlighted in line with access to justice in two countries of destination: Jordan and Lebanon. Countries of origin chosen with specific case studies included Indonesia and Nepal. A specific session was also organized on public interest litigation, people’s tribunals, and addressing migrant workers’ rights violations through international human rights and labor rights treaties. The last day of the conference focused on developing a program of action for the Lawyers Beyond Borders network. The program of action included strengthening national lawyers networks and engagement with bar councils in both countries of destination and origin.

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[Research] Access to Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon

The ILO and Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center have conducted an ambitious research to better understand the barriers to access to justice faced by migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.

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[Policy Paper] Reforming the “Sponsorship System” for Migrant Domestic Workers: Towards an Alternative Governance Scheme in Lebanon

Written by Dr. Kathleen Hamill (member of Lawyers Beyond Borders) for KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation, this policy paper analyses the “sponsorship system” (kafala) in place in Lebanon, as this system has been identified as a root cause for the vulnerability of domestic workers to all manner of exploitation, abuse, and mistreatment.

The study builds on previous research and policy proposals forwarded by KAFA and other groups, and addresses gaps in existing research. Its aim is to provide policy-makers, human rights advocates, and relevant stakeholders with a framework for a rights-based approach to recruitment and employment of migrant domestic workers, towards the development of an alternative policy.

Download the full paper prepared by Dr. Kathleen Hamill for KAFA, Lebanon (January 2012)

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Frequently Asked Questions on Labour Law and Redress Mechanisms

During the fist meeting of Lawyers Beyond Borders in Bangkok, the group drew up a series of frequently asked questions that could be used to guide migrant workers, civil society advocates, and NGOs when workers require basic legal advice.

The first four questions are as follows:

1.  Are migrant workers protected by the labor law and labor regulations in your country? If so, then which provisions of the labor law are most relevant and useful to lawyers, advocates, and migrant workers? Are there any restrictions on the application of the labor law to migrant workers in your country? Explain.

2.  What is the first point of contact for purposes of litigation in criminal complaints? In labor complaints? Compare and contrast. What is the statute of limitations for filing civil, labor, or criminal complaints with the courts on behalf of migrant workers in your country? Provide details.

3.  Do various types of contracts exist for migrant workers in your country? Are migrant workers and their employers obliged to sign a standard unified contract in order to be eligible for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor? Is there a distinction between limited and unlimited contracts in your country? Explain.

4.  Where can migrant workers find legal advice and legal representation in your country? Who currently offers these services and who pays for them?

Click here to download compiled answers for the country contexts of Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Philippines, and Qatar.