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Lebanon: Stronger commitment to rights and social justice needed in the Tripoli Special Economic Zone

Special Economic Zones in Tripoli; Fears and Hopes, 3 November 2016

The law on the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tripoli issued on September 5, 2008 identified the role and objectives of the Tripoli SEZ General Authority … [The SEZ] is subject neither to the provisions regulating the work of public institutions nor to oversight from Central Inspection or the Civil Service Board and is only subject to the Audit Court’s supervision… [The SEZ Law leaves some labour rights questions unanswered.] For example, will employers sign contracts with wage-earners and workers that clarify their rights and duties as stipulated by the Lebanese Labour Law? This includes the minimum wage, overtime allowances, registration in all of the branches of social security, the right to organize and establish trade unions, and in particular family allowances and transportation which are rights acquired by workers thanks to their decades-old demand movements.

[Another issue] raised in this context related to transparency and accountability standards and the citizens’ right to obtain information related inter alia to tenders and contracts and several other activities. To what extent will the SEZ provide transparency and accountability mechanisms to see to the investors and companies’ compliance with human rights standards?

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