The following is the press release by 9 Civil Society Organizations on the General Security’s decision not to renew residency permits for children of Migrant Workers.
Lebanon: Migrant Workers’ Children Expelled
Directive Tearing Families Apart
Beirut, September 3, 2014 – Lebanon is deporting locally born children of migrant workers and in some cases their mothers, nine nongovernmental organizations working in Lebanon said today. A recent decision by General Security, Lebanon’s security agency in charge of foreigners’ entry and residency, to deny residency permit renewals for a number of low-wage migrants who have had children in Lebanon and for their children disproportionately interferes with the right to family life.
Since May 2014, nearly a dozen female migrant workers, many of them longstanding residents of Lebanon, reported to human rights groups that when they went to General Security to renew residency papers for themselves and their children, they were turned down. Some were told they were not allowed to have children in Lebanon and given a short period of time to leave the country. In some cases, they said, they were given as little as 48 hours.
“Under General Security’s new directive some families are being torn apart while others are apparently being denied their livelihoods simply because they’ve had children in Lebanon,” said a spokesperson for the organizations. “The Lebanese authorities have not given any justification for this new policy and should immediately revoke this directive as it interferes with the right to family life.”
Sources within General Security have confirmed to nongovernmental groups that the agency has a new directive regarding the renewal of residency permits for Lebanon-born children of low-wage migrants and their migrant parents. Despite written requests from the nongovernmental groups to receive a copy of the directive the agency has yet to respond. Activists say the directive was apparently adopted in January 2014, but has been applied more stringently since May and has resulted in the expulsion of some family members of migrant workers.
Based on research by the organizations, all migrant workers interviewed who were affected by the decision so far appear to be women who are Category 3 and 4 workers under Lebanon’s labor regulations – low-paid workers in industries such as sanitation, agriculture, and domestic work. Although foreign workers in these categories are not allowed to sponsor the residency for their spouses or children, until recently, women in these categories could extend their residency permits to include children born in Lebanon.
This decision, which appears to expel migrant workers with children on the grounds that they have started a family in Lebanon, contravenes Lebanon’s international human rights obligations under the human rights treaties to which it is party, including theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The Lebanese government should comply with its international obligations by ensuring that General Security considers the family interests involved before rejecting the renewal of residency for workers or their children or considering their expulsion. The government should also ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families to safeguard the rights of migrants in Lebanon.