UAE: Qatar behind ‘war crimes’ complaint

Seated at the table from right to left are Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, during a meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. The foreign ministers of four Arab nations are meeting in Cairo to discuss a draft Saudi declaration on countering Iranian influence in Arab affairs. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Updated 29 November 2017
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UAE: Qatar behind ‘war crimes’ complaint

ABU DHABI: The UAE on Tuesday accused Gulf rival Qatar of being behind a call for the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes by the UAE in Yemen.
A group calling itself the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK said on Monday it was taking the UAE to the ICC over “indiscriminate attacks on civilians” in Yemen.
The UAE is part of a Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite Houthi militias in Yemen.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash accused Qatar of being responsible.
“The Arab Organization for Human Rights with its address in Qatar has filed a media complaint against the UAE to the International Criminal Court,” Gargash wrote on his Twitter account.
“People with knowledge are aware that this move aims to create noise, which is Qatar’s favorite game,” he said.
The group, which says it is based in London, said the complaint was filed on Monday.
Officials at the Hague-based ICC could not be reached to confirm whether the complaint had been filed. Such complaints are common, with some 10,000 received since the court opened in 2002.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in June severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed economic sanctions on the gas-rich country.


Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

An Asian domestic worker walks her employer's dog in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, on April 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 min 26 sec ago
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Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

  • Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come

BEIRUT: Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Lebanon to end what it described as an “inherently abusive” migration sponsorship system governing the lives of tens of thousands of foreigners working in private homes.
Domestic workers in Lebanon are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency though their employers’ sponsorship under the so-called “kafala” system.
But activists say this leaves the maids, nannies and carers at the mercy of their employers and unable to leave without their permission, including in numerous documented cases of abuse.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Lebanese authorities to end the kafala system and extend labor protections to migrant domestic workers,” the London-based rights group said.
“The Lebanese parliament should amend the labor law to include domestic workers under its protection,” including to allow them to join unions, the group said.
Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers from countries in Africa and Asia, the vast majority of them women.
In a report released Wednesday titled “Their house is my prison,” Amnesty surveyed 32 domestic workers employed mostly in and around Beirut, revealing “alarming patterns of abuse.”
Among them, 10 women said they were not allowed to leave their employer’s house, with some saying they were locked in.
Twenty-seven said their employers had confiscated their passports.
Many worked overtime, 14 were not allowed a single day off each week, and several had their monthly salaries revoked or decreased, despite it being a breach of their contracts.
The labor ministry introduced a standard contract for domestic workers in 2009, but the forms are often written in Arabic, a language they cannot read.
The government in late 2018 said it had translated the contracts into several other languages.
Amnesty registered eight cases of forced labor and four of human trafficking, the report said.
Six reported severe physical abuse, while almost all had been subjected to humiliating treatment and several were deprived of food.
“Sometimes I would get so hungry... I used to mix water with sugar when I was hungry and drink it,” one worker said.
With the abuse taking a toll on their mental health, six said they had contemplated or attempted suicide.
Only four of those interviewed had private rooms, while the rest were relegated to living rooms, storage rooms, kitchens or balconies.
“There is a man in the house who can enter the living room any time he wants,” said one worker who was forced to sleep in the living room.
Activists accuse the Lebanese authorities of being lax in bringing abusive employers to account.
Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that migrant domestic workers in Lebanon were dying at a rate of more than one per week from suicide or in failed escapes.
Many other countries in the Arab world also follow the “kafala” system for household workers.