New initiatives will be implemented to combat human trafficking in Lebanon in response to a report issued by the U.S.State Department. The initiatives were announced Thursday as part a workshop organized at the Beirut Bar Association to mark International Day for Human Trafficking.
The workshop was attended by representatives from several ministries and the Lebanese Army, in addition to other security services and civil society groups.
The announcement came in response to the U.S. State Department’s annual report about worldwide human trafficking, which claimed that the Lebanese government does not comply with the minimum standards set to eradicate the trafficking of human beings.
But the report concluded that Lebanon has made significant strides to comply with standards and was placed on the “tier 2 watch list” of the report, above the worst “tier 3” characterization. Lebanon avoided that rank after requesting a special pardon to the U.S. accompanied by a pledge to implement a plan to combat human trafficking. The report praised the Lebanese judiciary’s increased efforts to investigate and hear cases involving trafficking.
During the event, Andre Qasqas, a representative from the Information Ministry, said it would “mobilize all its resources” to spread awareness about human trafficking. A documentary shedding light on human trafficking in Lebanon is also to be produced and broadcast on all local TV networks as part of a program to increase awareness, he said.
The Human Rights Institute of the Bar Association announced plans to formulate a practical guide in cooperation with concerned ministries and security forces. The guide would suggest procedures aimed at safeguarding the legal status of victims of human trafficking.
Human trafficking violations spawn primarily through the issuance of artist visas, through which foreign women are sometimes forced into prostitution against their will. Syrian refugees are especially at risk of being forced into sex and slave labor, as are Lebanese street children.