The Kenyan government said Wednesday that it will send officials to Beirut to investigate reports of mistreatment of Kenyan women.
The move comes following a recent CNN report that shed light on the assault and overcharging accusations that several Kenyan women have put forth against the Kenyan Honorary Consul in Beirut, Sayed Chalouhi.
According to the report, the Kenyan women who sought their country’s consulate for assistance were physically and verbally assaulted, overcharged, and/or pressured to get involved in sex work by Chalouhi and his assistant Kassem Jaber.
“We are planning to travel to Lebanon for a fact-finding mission in the first week of August because our airspace is currently closed,” said Halima Mohamud, Kenya’s Ambassador to Kuwait.
Officially, the Kenyan Embassy in Kuwait is also accredited to Lebanon.
However, distance prompted the Kenyan government to appoint the Lebanese Honorary Consul to officially represent the African nation in Lebanon, even though he is neither a Kenyan citizen nor a career diplomat.
Some of the Kenyan women who accused Chalouhi of the aforementioned wrongdoings were seeking his help to secure and facilitate their repatriation flights.
(Kenyan women) are afraid from the consulate and I don’t know why.Assistant consul Kassem Jaber
Instead of helping, the Honorary Consul allegedly overcharged them for essential consular fees and, in some cases, conned the workers for their money, before pressuring them to resort to sex work to cover the overcharged repatriation fees.
One Kenyan domestic worker, Linda, said that she resorted to cleaning the Consul’s office instead, only for the latter to refuse to pay her afterward.
Others have reported similar instances of mistreatment and exploitation.
Chalouhi and his assistant have both denied the accusations.
The Kenyan government’s probing announcement coincides with an urgent request by Human Rights Watch that Lebanon takes steps to abolish the “kafala” sponsorship system and protect the rights of its migrant domestic workers.