Four killed in attack on 'Al-Hal' Iraqi party headquarters in Anbar province

Iraqis gather at the site of a car bomb explosion near Baghdad's Al-Shuhada Bridge. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 08 April 2018
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Four killed in attack on 'Al-Hal' Iraqi party headquarters in Anbar province

RAMADI: A suicide attack targeting a political party headquarters in western Iraq has killed four people and injured seven others, including a candidate in polls set for May, officials said Sunday.
On Saturday evening “two suicide bombers disguised as soldiers entered the Al-Hal Party headquarters,” one of most prominent parties in the Sunni-majority province of Al-Anbar, a local security official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
One of the attackers “detonated his explosive belt while political leaders held a meeting” at the campaign headquarters in the city of Hit, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Baghdad, General Qassam Al-Mohammadi, head of army operations in the area, told AFP.
“Three members of the security forces were killed and seven people, including candidate Zineb Abdel Hamid Al-Hiti, were wounded,” he said.
A municipal employee on Sunday also succumbed to injuries sustained in the attack, the anonymous official said.
He said the second attacker detonated his belt shortly after the first, but did not cause any casualties.
Medical sources confirmed the death toll of four and said Hiti had been hospitalized with light injuries.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place in the tribal desert province of Al-Anbar, primarily home to Sunni Muslims.
Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, where more than two-thirds of the population is Shiite Muslim.
For three years, the Sunni Islamic State jihadist group ruled over the province, which stretches from the western periphery of the capital to the border with war-torn Syria.
In December, Baghdad declared “victory” against IS after retaking the group’s last urban stronghold in Al-Anbar.
But according to experts, jihadists are still hiding along the porous border with Syria and in parts of the Iraqi desert.
Elections held in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime have all been marred by deadly violence.
But in the runup to the May 12 polls, the country has enjoyed a respite from violence which has significantly decreased in recent months.


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 24 April 2019
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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.