Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

LEBANON: Human Rights activists calls for investigation in Alem Dechasa’s death

A United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, urged Lebanon’s government to carry out a full investigation into the death of Alem Dechasa, the Ethiopian domestic worker who apparently committed suicide last month after widely broadcasted abuse outside the Ethiopian Consulate.
“Like many people around the world I watched the video of the physical abuse of Alem Dechasa on a Beirut street. I strongly urge the Lebanese authorities to carry out a full investigation into the circumstances leading to her death. I also express my deepest condolences to Ms. Dechasa’s family and friends,” said Gulnara.
Gulnara, who is said to have visited Lebanon, last year, said Ms. Dechasa’s case is an example of the situation that many migrant women workers face in Lebanon.
“Women who had been victims of domestic servitude told me they had been under the absolute control of their employers through economic exploitation and suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuses,” she said.
At the end of her visit to Lebanon in October, Gulnara urged the Government to enact legislation to protect some 200,000 domestic workers in the country, stressing that without legal protection some of them would end up living in severe domestic servitude.
“Migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, the majority of whom are women, are legally invisible. That makes them severely vulnerable,” said Gulnara, adding that states have an obligation to ensure that the realization of the right to truth about violations is pursued; to end impunity; to promote and protect human rights and provide redress to victims and their families.
“There are a number of reports circulating about the human rights violations Alem Dechasa experienced and the facts surrounding her death,” said Gulnara.
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.
Other UN independent human rights experts joined Ms. Shahinian’s call for a full investigation and the public disclosure of its results, including the Special Rapporteur on migrants, François Crépeau; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo; and the Special Rapporteur on torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez.
Ethiopian protestors gathered at the Ethiopian Consulate in Lebanon on Sunday April 1st 2012 saying that their community is ignored and treated with cruelty. The protestors also said that the Consulate was more motivated by money than helping Ethiopian domestic workers. A women named Sarah who was present at the protest told The Daily Star that the Consulate, located at Badaro, often excuses itself from responsibility for Ethiopians who enter Lebanon illegally, though they have no problem renewing the passports of illegal immigrants.