Revealed… Lebanese Ambassador Abuses Diplomatic Status, Breaches SL Labour, Human Rights Laws

Lebanese Ambassador Abuses Diplomatic Status, Breaches SL Labour, Human Rights Laws

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr. Alie Kabba

The Lebanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Brigitta Al Ojeil has been accused of flagrantly violating the labour and human rights laws of Sierra Leone. She is also being accused of abusing her diplomatic status, albeit she is a foreign diplomat representing the Government and People of Lebanon in Sierra Leone.
Long before her assignment to Sierra Leone, the Embassy had retained the services of Sierra Leonean workers to serve in various domestic capacities. The workers include Lansana Sesay and Anthony Kamara. They have both served the Embassy for over twenty years in different capacities.
The Calabash is reliably informed that these workers, Anthony Kamara and Lansana Sesay, have loyally served the Embassy all this while without any issues. They have received their salaries and other emoluments due them in the past on time. But this has changed when the current Ambassador assumed office.
“She would only pay us on the first week of the other month. Then on the 31st January, 2019 we were expecting to get our salaries for the month of January but we were not paid. We waited patiently until the 7th of February when we approached the Ambassador to ask for our January salary,” the workers disclosed.
They disclosed that the Ambassador took offence to this and responded very rudely, using invectives on them, to the extent that she used threatening remarks on their persons.
“She later ordered an OSD Personnel deployed at the Embassy to get us out of the Embassy,” they furthered.
It was reported that, after having failed to get the OSD’s cooperation to chase the workers, the Ambassador called on the Local Unit Commander of the Lumley Police Division, who came at once with a truck load of police officers and arrested the two workers on allegations of threatening to kill the Ambassador.
This, according to the workers, was never substantiated to the Police by any of the workers at the Embassy, as they were around when the incidence took place.
These poor Sierra Leonean workers, who were only asking for their one month salary and other benefits due them, were unlawfully detained by their own local Police Force for 24 hours at the Lumley Police station.
They were later transferred to the Criminal Investigations Department, where they also spent another twenty four hours and later released on bail upon representation by their solicitor, Mrs. Basita Michael.
Sources at the CID have told this medium that the Ambassador has failed to produce witnesses to corroborate her false claim against the workers; and she also vehemently refused to sign her own statement to the Police.
The workers are now on bail after being unlawfully detained for 48 hours. In fact, they are still to receive their entitlements from the Lebanese Ambassador.
The failure of the Lebanese Ambassador to honor the Embassy’s contractual commitment to the two Sierra Leonean workers constitutes a breach of the labour laws of Sierra Leone. This is even more grave and serious when it is being perpetrated by a foreign Embassy in Sierra Leone.
Does someone have to tell the Sierra Leone Police that it was their duty to protect the poor Sierra Leonean workers, who have a genuine case of not being paid for their services by the Embassy of Lebanon? This could not have precluded them from stopping the investigation into the allegation of threatening to kill the Lebanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone.
This medium will keep an eye on the matter at the Criminal Investigations Department. However, at the same time, we can have a swift action from the relevant authorities to ensure that these Sierra Leonean workers are promptly paid what is due them in their country of birth.
We are privy to a letter dated 14th February in which solicitors for the workers, Michael and Michael, have written to the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, cataloguing a number of human rights abuses and labour breaches already suffered by their clients at the hands of the Lebanese Ambassador. The legal representatives are requesting for what is contractually due their clients for the past two decades.
The solicitors for the Embassy workers have urged the Director General’s office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take appropriate steps to investigate, what they have referred to as, the Ambassador’s abusive conduct and misuse of her diplomatic status. They encouraged the Director General to use his good office to ensure that the Embassy pays all entitlements due the workers.
“We also request that appropriate sanctions are imposed upon the Ambassador for not behaving according to the conduct befitting her office,” the solicitors concluded.
It is our hope that the Foreign Affairs Ministry will quickly nip the issue in the bud and promptly ensure that the workers are paid in full.

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