Trafficking in Human Beings (THB)

U.S. Department of State

Trafficking in Persons Report 2019: Lebanon

Lebanon: Tier 2

The Government of Lebanon does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Lebanon remained on Tier 2. These efforts included increasing investigations of suspected trafficking cases and identifying an increased number of trafficking victims. The government also strengthened its partnerships with NGOs, including through improved cooperation to screen for potential victims in a government-run migrant detention center. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) reported that collection of judicial data across the country remained a serious challenge, thus officials reported they were unable to provide complete judicial statistics on trafficking cases. The government did not fully implement victim identification and referral procedures, which resulted in the potential for some victims to face arrest, detention, or deportation for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. Moreover, Lebanon’s sponsorship system, which places a significant amount of power in the hands of employers of foreign workers, continued to create vulnerabilities for the exploitation of migrant workers and remained a significant impediment to authorities identifying and protecting trafficking victims. In addition, the government did not report identifying or referring any victims of labor trafficking, despite several cases being addressed by law enforcement.
> state.gov/2019-tip-report-lebanon/

2019 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP)

Law No. 164, Punishment for the Crime of Trafficking in Persons

Law No. 164 of 24 August 2011, adopted by the Chamber of Deputies punishes the crime of trafficking in persons. The new law defines trafficking in persons as:

  • luring, transporting, receiving, detaining, or finding shelter for a person;
  • by using force or threatening to use force against someone who is subject to one’s power; by kidnapping or deceiving another person; by using one’s power against another person or exploiting that person’s vulnerability; by giving or receiving sums of money or benefits; and by utilizing such methods against another person who is subject to perpetrator’s authority;
  • for the purpose of exploiting said other person or facilitating his exploitation by others.

The consent of a victim shall be given no consideration in case any of the methods shown in this Article are utilized.

Victim of Trafficking:
For the purposes of this law a victim of trafficking means any natural person who was the
subject of trafficking in persons or who is reasonably considered by the competent authorities
to be a victim of trafficking in persons, regardless of whether the perpetrator of the crime [of
trafficking in persons] was identified, arrested, tried, or convicted.

According to the provisions of this article, compelling a person to participate in any of the following acts shall be considered exploitation:
A) Acts that are punishable by law;
B) Prostitution or exploitation of the prostitution of others;
C) Sexual exploitation;
D) Begging;
E) Slavery or practices that resemble slavery;
F) Forcible or compulsory work;
G) This includes the forcible or mandatory recruitment of children to use them in armed conflicts;
H) Forcible involvement in terrorist acts;
I) Selling organs or tissue from the victim’s body.
> Law No. 164

Practical Guide on Combating the Crime of Trafficking In Persons

In 2005, Lebanon joined the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC), the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air supplementing it and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children attached to the Convention.

In 2002, Lebanon had ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography attached to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On August 24th, 2011, the Law No 164/2011 on the “Punishment for the crime of Trafficking in persons” was passed (and published in the Official Gazette on September 1st, 2011), as a first step in the path of fighting the human trafficking phenomenon.

At the initiative of the Human Rights Institute of the Beirut Bar Association and the Division of Diakonia and Social Justice in the Middle East Churches Council, and as a result of the National Conference on “Human Trafficking Crime: from legislation to implementation”, held on June 14-15, 2012 at the Lawyer’s House, a general strategy was developed to combat the crime of trafficking in persons.
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Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review

Twenty-Second Session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council
November 2015

Preventing Sex Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and protecting Survivors
11. We are very concerned about the failure of the Lebanese government to adequately prevent sex trafficking and the exploitation of women and girls in prostitution, and to protect and assist victims.
12. Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation to and within Lebanon has been a problem for years and has been exacerbated by the crisis in Syria and the large number of Syrian women and girls in Lebanon.
13. While anti-trafficking legislation was enacted in 2011, we are concerned that traffickers are not held to account and legislation on both trafficking and prostitution do not adequately address the main root causes, namely demand for sexual services and the lack of support and viable alternatives for women.

Implementation of anti-trafficking legislation – holding traffickers to account

14. We welcome Ant-Trafficking Law No. 164, which was enacted in 2011, as a positive step forward. The Penal Code is now equipped with a clear definition of the crime of trafficking which is largely in line with the definition set out in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), supplementing the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime.
15. However, while Anti-Trafficking Law No. 164 sets out strong penalties and sentences for traffickers, to date there have been no convictions under this law with regard to sex trafficking. Thus, we are concerned that traffickers are not held to account under the law because it is not being adequately enforced. Many law enforcement officers, judges and service agencies are still unfamiliar with the law. Furthermore, trafficking cases are often not recognized as such by relevant authorities, given the institutional bias and social prejudice that exists against women who have been trafficked. This is in part because women in prostitution are criminalized under Article 523 of the Penal Code (as discussed below).

Decriminalizing and supporting victims/women in prostitution

16. Lebanon has problematic laws and regulations on trafficking which leave victims liable to exploitation and also criminal sanctions. These contradict Anti-Trafficking Law No. 146.
17. Under Article 523 of the Penal Code, the sale of sex is punishable with up to one year imprisonment. Criminalizing the sale of sex only serves to further marginalize women in prostitution, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, including trafficking. Due to the criminalization of the sale of sex, victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are often perceived by the authorities as criminals instead of victims, and do not receive the support they need and deserve. As such, any criminal sanctions of women in prostitution, including Article 523, should be removed from Lebanon’s legislation.
18. Anti-Trafficking Law No. 164 also does not ensure the non-criminalization of trafficking victims for related crimes. Rather, the burden of proof is on the victim to demonstrate not only that he/she is a victim of trafficking – which is difficult for an individual in a trafficking situation, especially if he/she is a foreigner – but also to prove that he/she was obliged to commit acts punishable by Lebanese regulations such as being engaged in prostitution. Legislation should ensure that victims are not criminalized for acts committed as a result of their being victims of trafficking.
19. Law No. 164 also did not amend laws and regulations that tolerate and even facilitate the sexual exploitation of women such as the Artiste Visa scheme that regulates the entrance and stay of thousands of women to Lebanon each year under the premise of working in entertainment, but often resulting in their exploitation in prostitution.
20. Thus, under current legislation, the Lebanese government does not address prevention of sex trafficking and exploitation in prostitution or protection and ensuring the human rights of victims.

Reducing demand for exploitation

21. Demand is not addressed in Anti-Trafficking Law No. 164, or elsewhere in Lebanon’s legislation.
22. Lebanon is considered a sex tourism destination in the region. In its 2014 report on Exploring the Demand for Prostitution, KAFA, a feminist, secular, non-profit civil society organization in Lebanon, notes that despite the prevalence of prostitution in Lebanon and the authorities’ awareness of the industry, buyers of commercial sex, who fuel the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of women in Lebanon, are not criminalized in any way and no demand-reduction measures are put in place.
23. Yet, under Article 9 (5) of the Palermo Protocol, the Lebanese government is obligated to discourage “the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.”
24. Prostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked. Demand fuels both sex trafficking and the commercial sex industry. In any market, if there is no demand, there would be no supply. Placing the criminal liability on buyers of commercial sex would reduce the demand for commercial sex; it would consequently reduce the supply of women for prostitution; and would reduce the pimps or traffickers that recruit women to meet the needs of buyers.


25. Lebanon’s existing laws on trafficking and prostitution do not adequately address prevention, protection and prosecution of the sex trafficking and exploitation in prostitution of women.
26. Traffickers are not held to account under Anti-Trafficking Law No. 164, partly because the government has not taken measures to ensure that members of law enforcement and the judiciary are aware of, and well-trained on, the law.
27. At a more fundamental level, the legislation currently in place on trafficking and prostitution does not address their root causes, particularly the demand for exploitation of women in prostitution as well as support and viable alternatives to those in prostitution.
28. We urge the Human Rights Council to encourage the Lebanese government to ensure that Anti-Trafficking Law No. 164 is being enforced and that traffickers are punished, including through trainings of relevant authorities to promote adequate knowledge of the law; to discourage the demand that fuels trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and to hold buyers of commercial sex to account, with a view to criminalizing the purchase of sex in the long term; and to remove criminal sanctions against those exploited in prostitution and providing them with assistance, including to exit prostitution.

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