Lebanon’s continues its forced deportation policy of Syrian refugees

Beirut – Lebanon
Urgent statement

On October 13th2019, Saturday night, Lebanese authorities deported Syrian refugees to Syria. Although the judicial decisiondoesn’t state on delivering them to Syrian authorities, these refugees after serving their sentences in Lebanon were handed over to Syrian authorities, according to human rights activists, following the request of the general prosecutor of Mount Lebanon judge Ghada Aoun. 

Access Center for Human Rights was informed on Friday October 11th2019, that the Lebanese general security is detaining five Syrian refugees to be deported and handed over to Syrian authorities, who were imprisoned in Roumie’s central prison forvarious charges. ACHR immediately informed the UNHCR of the aforementioned case. To which they replied to be following the case closely. Almost thirty hours later, no positive action was taken and the Lebanese general security deported them the next day at the border point of Masnaa’. 

ACHR has later, on October 13th, received an insider information from Roumie’s general prison that detainees on terrorism charges in special security ward and cellblock B were set to call for food strike and insurgency in prison but the central administration met with the group requesting discretion on the call and promised asettlement with the ministry of internal affairs.  

The prisoners later presented three main demands: 

  • An official statement from the Lebanese authorities that no Syrian refugee in Lebanon will be deported especially those who will be released soon.
  • To explain the fate of the five young men who were handed over to Syrian authorities
  • To explain the reasons of handing over Syrian refugees at risk in Syria.

In spite of tens of international and local human rights condemning Lebanon’s refugees’ rights violations, and concerns of the Lebanese government’s indirect pressures on Syrian refugees to push them into “voluntarily” leaving the country, the Lebanese government hasn’t made any serious reforms.

Previously, Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) had published in August a detailed report on the policy and risks of continued forced deportation titled “On Arbitrary Deportation of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon”, outlining the policy and procedures of deporting refugees from Lebanon, and an analysis of the risks that refugees may face after their return, and testimonies from refugees who were forced to return and subjected to arrest and grave violations amounted to torture.

As a party to the Convention against Torture, Lebanon is under an obligation, under article 3 of the Convention, not to return or extradite any person in case that there are substantial grounds for suggesting that he/she may be in danger of being subjected to torture. Lebanon is also bound by the principle of “non-refoulement” in the International Customary law, which prohibits the return of persons to places where they may be persecuted, or anyone who is in real danger of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or any risk to their lives. 

Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) had documented at least 31 cases of forced deportation since the beginning of 2019 that have been carried out by various Lebanese security agencies supervised by the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Municipalities.

ACHR reiterates its recommendations to the Lebanese authorities, in particular the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities:

•          The need for Lebanon to adhere to the international conventions that it has signed or ratified.

•          Reconsider the policy of the Lebanese authorities dealing with Syrian refugees in order to ensure respect for their desire to safe return to Syria or stay in Lebanon.

•          Revoke the decision issued by the Supreme Council of Defense (especially since there is arbitrariness in the implementation of the decision), and the decision of the Lebanese General Security that dictates deporting Syrian citizens entering Lebanon through unofficial crossings.

•          Allow victims threatened with deportation to appeal any decisions of deportation against them with the competent judicial authorities as required by local laws.