DOLE welcomes Syrian court conviction of Joanna Demafelis’ employer

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has welcomed the decision of a Syrian court convicting the female employer of Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis, who was found dead in Kuwait last year.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III believes that justice has been served for Demafelis, whose remains were found in a freezer in her employer’s abandoned apartment in February 2018.

“We are elated by reports that the female employer of Joanna has been convicted. We believe justice has been served on the gruesome death of our OFW,” Bello said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“We are thankful to the government of Syria that their brand of justice is accorded to poor Joanna and her family,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday announced that Demafelis’ female employer, Mouna Ali Hassoun, was found guilty of murder by the Syrian District Criminal Court.

Once sentence is rendered, Hassoun will be meted a minimum of eight years to a maximum of 15 years in prison pursuant to Syrian penal laws, according to DOLE.

Hassoun, along with her Labanese husband, Nader Assad, were arrested in Syria by the International Police in 2018 and were sentenced by a Kuwaiti court in absentia and meted the death penalty by hanging.

They were believed to have fled Kuwait for Syria about a year before the frozen body of Demafelis was found.

The discovery of the crime prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order for a total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait.

The ban has been lifted a few months after the Philippines and Kuwait governments signed a labor agreement seeking to provide for the protection of overseas Filipino workers in the Persian Gulf state.


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