Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher

British Ambassador to Lebanon

Part of Foreign Office Human Rights UK in Lebanon

7th March 2014 Beirut, Lebanon

Inhuman Human Trafficking

In the 21st century we get angry about many small things: traffic jams, power cuts or a failed internet connection. We get plenty of opportunities for all three in Lebanon.

But last Friday I joined an event about an issue worth getting really furious about. The Beirut Bar Association launched a Human Rights Institute booklet on human trafficking, funded by the British Embassy. It provides information on what people should do if they see human trafficking happening. Further information will be on the Beirut Bar Association website.

British Ambassador Tom Fletcher
British Ambassador at the Beirut Bar Association

Anyone who has seen the searing (and now Oscar winning) ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ should be appalled that trafficking still exists. I hope that this booklet will help people understand their rights, and what they can do to challenge those who abuse them. We all have a responsibility.

Tackling this evil is complex, requiring strong coordination between ministries, police and civil society. It is a cross border problem needing cross border solutions. In Lebanon, the dangers have been increased by the huge movement of people fleeing the violence in Syria. Far from offering them compassion, traffickers exploit them further: forcing children to work, controlling access to humanitarian supplies, and selling the adults as cheap labour in a form of modern day slavery.

I was recently at an event where it became apparent that domestic workers had been asked to sit in a separate area. It reminded me that the true measure of the generosity of a society is not the way it treats Ambassadors, but the way it treats the most vulnerable. I joined the domestic workers for lunch and left.

As the world prepares to mark International Women’s Day, discrimination and violence against women and girls remains one of the most widespread human rights abuses.  We know that trafficking affects women most of all – it destroys lives and traps survivors in poverty and insecurity.

Last year in London, G8 Foreign Ministers agreed to make sexual violence in conflict a grave breach of the Geneva Convention, and by September 119 countries signed up to a declaration committing to end sexual violence in conflict.  That number now stands at 140.  But that political commitment doesn’t mean anything without lasting changes on the ground – increased support for survivors, an end to impunity.  That is why in June 2014 William Hague and Angelina Jolie will co-chair the Global Summit in London to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. (#TimeToAct).

In Lebanon we continue to lobby for better political representation for women, advocacy and building future leaders.

We all have a responsibility to help.  In Lebanon, you can report abuse by calling the Internal Security Forces on 112, General Security on 1717, the Ministry of Social Affairs on 1714, or the Ministry of Justice on 1740.

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9 comments on “Inhuman Human Trafficking

  1. An honourable stand Mr. Ambassador for which we Britons thank you.

    It is expected from a representative of one of the world’s leading countries, if the world’s leading country.

    This clear display of Churchillian values of justice, freedom, honour, duty, mercy, hope, reflects why we are so proud to be British.

    My only hope is that this example will inspire others to follow suit with concrete actions and not just pay lip service.

  2. Always interesting blogging and discussions! As a Lebanese who loves lebanon, I feel ashamed of the human trafficking and injustices happening to vulnerable people in my country. Thanks for always making a point in a humble way, that demonstrates lots of real strength.

  3. “It reminded me that the true measure of the generosity of a society is not the way it treats Ambassadors, but the way it treats the most vulnerable. I joined the domestic workers for lunch and left.”

    Just wanted to say that that is very decent of you, and I was very grateful to read that there are people who also believe this.

  4. Joining the domestic help and leaving……waw…that is really Great….. WELL DONE….you made my day.

  5. The speech was astonishing and capturing! His Excellency’s words and ideas were of such a great value! I wish all kinds of abuse would end, to be replaced with justice and mercy!
    I am really sick of all what is taking place of murders and crimes that hold different names, but still, they are under the same title: Savagery and Evil Dominance!
    Thank you for allowing me and all the others to comment. I greatly appreciate it.

  6. Thank you so much for the article. I’ve worked on the issue inside Syria and neighboring countries as well (aftermath of Syria crisis). Would be happy to discuss further

  7. What a wonderful human being you are Tom Fletcher! Indeed an ambassador is always going to be treated with great respect wherever he goes but who speaks about the endless disrespectful manner domestic workers treated in Lebanon and the greater Middle East? Nobody! It is so refreshing to hear such real human issue being on the agenda of the great and the good.

    I am a British citizen of Ethiopian origin who feels lost and upset about the plight of Ethiopian women in Lebanon. We have been campaigning about Human Trafficking of Ethiopian women to Lebanon and the rest of Middle East and the untold mistreatment they receive in the hands of unscrupulous employers and agents to the Ethiopian government.

    Unfortunately it has all fallen on deaf ears.
    I first heard about your wonderful effort on Ethiopian website. Your picture as a domestic worker in place of girl called Kalkidan for the day is a simple yet wonderful effort to highlight the issue. Had it not been for my good luck which brought me to the UK, I too would have been Kalkidan. So I feel very strongly about it!

    Pls continue this good work address it with the Ethiopian government too why it treats its weakest and poorest of society as cash cows. I am hugely grateful to you and proud to be British!

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About Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Lebanese Republic in August 2011. Tom was born in Kent, and studied at Harvey Grammar School (Folkestone) and Oxford University (Hertford…

Tom Fletcher was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Lebanese Republic in August 2011.

Tom was born in Kent, and studied at Harvey Grammar School (Folkestone) and Oxford University (Hertford College), graduating with a First class degree in Modern History. He has an MA in Modern History, and is a Senior Associate Member of St Anthony’s College for International Studies, Oxford.

He is married to Louise Fletcher and they have two sons, Charles (born 2006) and Theodor (born 2011). Tom enjoys political history, cricket (Strollers CC), and mountains, and is the co-founder of 2020 (a progressive think tank).

Tom was awarded the Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2011 New Year’s Honours, for services to the Prime Minister.

Tom posts on Lebanon and the Middle East on this site. For posts on innovative statecraft, please visit Naked Diplomat-Foreign Policy without the Frills.

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