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Ambassador who treated staff 'like slaves' ordered to pay them €240,000

But will Khalid Nasser Rashed Lootah invoke diplomatic immunity?

Amb Khalid UAE Ambassador to Ireland, Khalid Nasser Rashed Lootah Source: UAE Embassy

THE UNITED ARAB Emirates’ ambassador to Ireland has been ordered to pay three Filipina workers a total of €240,000 for breaching their employment rights.

Ambassador Khalid Nasser Rashed Lootah and his wife Mehra Metad Alghubaisi had paid the women less than €2/hour to perform housework and other tasks for 15 hours a day, and seven days a week, a tribunal heard today.

The staff were constantly on call, had their passports confiscated and were never given a day off.

One of the women, Jennifer Villaranda, told TheJournal.ie that she and her colleagues were treated “like slaves.”

Niamh O’Carroll Kelly, chairperson of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, condemned as “appalling” the working conditions of Myra Calderon, Laylanie Laporga and Jennifer Villaranda.

In her decision this afternoon, she ordered Lootah to pay them €80,000 each.

A spokesperson for the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), which has worked with the women for the last few years, said the judgement was “very progressive.”

However, they emphasised that the ambassador must not be allowed to invoke diplomatic immunity in response to the tribunal’s verdict.

We are calling on the Department of Foreign Affairs to intervene and make sure that [the money] does get paid, so this is not just a symbolic victory for the women.

NO FEE - Laylanie Loparga and Jennifer Loparga Laylanie Loparga and Jennifer Villaranda Source: MRCI

In a statement sent to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the department would not comment on the specifics of this case, but noted that diplomatic privilege also comes with certain responsibilities.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, it is the duty of all persons enjoying diplomatic privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the host State, including labour law.

To that end, Minister Charlie Flanagan in September put in place new guidelines specifically catered to domestic workers in diplomatic households.

The requirements were welcomed at the time by the MRCI, which said they “match international best practice and will help to prevent further cases of exploitation, trafficking and domestic servitude.”

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Dan MacGuill

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