Filipinas Sue Swiss Diplomats for Slavery


A Filipina domestic worker, Virginia, faced her diplomat employers at the Pakistan Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, in court after filing a case alleging that she had not been paid for over 20 years. Her contract, signed in the Philippines in 1999, stated a monthly salary of 1,200 Swiss francs ($1,329) for a 40-hour week, along with board and lodging as well as health insurance. However, upon arriving in Geneva, Virginia discovered that she was expected to work for the Pakistan Mission three times a week without a salary and had to find other jobs to support herself. Virginia and three other Filipina domestic workers are suing the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations in Switzerland for compensation for unpaid wages and other damages. Diplomatic immunity protects state envoys and employees of international organisations from criminal or civil suits, but domestic workers who experience abuse and exploitation by their diplomat employers remain unprotected. In the case of the four Filipina domestic workers in Geneva, the Swiss Mission said the waiver of immunity was one of the measures that could be applied but refrained from providing further details in order to not prejudice continuing proceedings.