The deportation of a Kenyan worker after being violated in Lebanon and before the pursuit of justice


Jamila Haddad

A few days ago, “Shamila Napowayo”, a Kenyan housemaid was deported to her country after that her sponsor refused to give up her bail in response to the settlement offered by her defense agents. Unfortunately, the worker was deported before the end of the trial of the aggressors and before proving that they were guilty.

On 17 June, “Shamila” and her Kenyan friend “Winirose Wamboy” were severely beaten by a number of residents of “Burj Hammoud” (“Metn” in Mount Lebanon governorate) headed by a military "command”, in an incident documented in a circulating video on the social media, which angered many activists and jurists who asked for the punishment of these aggressors.

Concerning the details of the incident, the preliminary information of the investigation showed that the reason behind the exposure of the two workers to collective violence was the objection of one of them against the incident of the parking. The military command hit her by his car from behind, as she was standing in front of the place where the man parked his vehicle. Thus, he started beating the two workers with some pedestrians who joined him.

According to their lawyer, “Nariman Sibai”, the evidence indicates that about 20 people have beaten them taking turns, "in an incident of violence, hatred and abhorrent mass racism.”

Following the incident, both the aggressors and the two workers were arrested to open an investigation at the military court in Lebanon. As the investigation revealed the illegality of their residence documents in Lebanon, the two workers were arrested. The Lebanese public security quickly released “Winirose”, as they discovered that she is married to a Lebanese man and has a child, and asked her to settle her legal status, as soon as possible, while “Shamila” remained in detention.

After the incident, activists and jurists heard about the Lebanese General Security Agency’s intention to deport “Shamila”, which led them to launch virtual campaigns in Lebanon, asking the Lebanese public security not to deport “Shamila” before the end of the trial in the military court.

The anti-racism movement issued a statement asking the Public Security and the Ministry of Justice to halt the deportation of the worker to guarantee her right and her friend's right to attend the trial, in order to punish the perpetrators. In addition, Amnesty International considered the Public Security’s decision as “reflecting the injustice exposed on the migrant domestic workers."

The organization pointed out that these workers “whenever they resort to justice, they were surprised by the deportation order.” Moreover, it called on the public security and the Ministry of Justice to stop the deportation of the worker and protect her right with the presence of a lawyer and through her attendance in the trial sessions, in accordance with the Lebanese law and the international conventions binding Lebanon. Consequently, the Lebanese public security retreated from the deportation decision due to the pressure imposed on it from the human rights organizations, until the settlement of the worker’s legal documents.

According to the sources of the lawyers who took charge of the defense of “Shamila”, the last sponsor asked for $ 3 000 for her waiver of her sponsorship, which was rejected by lawyers who considered the sponsor as a blackmailer, which prompted her to book a ticket and deport the worker following the the sponsorship system in Lebanon, which allows the sponsor to determine the fate of the worker.

Based on these facts, the Kenyan worker has been deported without attending the trial to join dozens of other workers from different countries who face the same fate. A source in the Lebanese public security said that the law allows “Shamila” to enter Lebanon in order to attend the trial sessions, however, the lawyers reported that the worker and the human rights organizations will not be able to cover all the required costs of the trials, in addition to the believe of some of them of the possibility of not proving her innocence because not only of the bias of the military court and also the bias of the existing sponsorship system that will not take into account the rights of workers.

Paradoxically, the lawyers had stated that the investigation before the military court was based on describing the incident as a "simple quarrel between individuals", and not a racist mass of violence incident, in a context that makes the situation of the two victims and their executioners look like the same and of equal importance.

The worker's deportation sparked criticism among activists, including activists from the Center for the Community of Immigrants, who saw her deportation is as equal as the impact of the violence exposed against her in the incident. They pointed out that "the Lebanese law violated her rights and was unjust to her."

A number of them attended Rafic Hariri International Airport to support her before her deportation. “Shamila” arrived at the airport by the Lebanese public security bus in the midst of a conspicuous absence of the Lebanese media. She was accompanied by dozens of migrant workers who received deportation decisions as well. They got off the bus, escorted by heavy guard, guilty of crimes that they did not commit.