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Friday, 19 April 2024
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Access Center for Human Rights
سجون الأسد (أرشيف)

Last April, a major security campaign in Lebanon targeted refugees, posing ongoing threats to their well-being and safety. ACHR published a report entitled [1]“Lebanon goes beyond human rights by forcibly deporting refugees,” highlighting the realities faced by refugees in this security campaign against them. As a result of ACHR’s follow-up of the ongoing violations, the Access Center for Human Rights documented 1,027 arbitrary arrests from the beginning of 2023 until November 30. 761 people were forcibly deported to Syria.

 

These numbers reflect a bitter reality facing refugees in Lebanon and confirm that they are exposed to constant threats and violations. The Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) has shed light on these repeated and increasing violations, working to document the events and collect evidence accurately and professionally. This report highlights the extent of the impact of these repressive acts on Syrian refugees and the continued violations against them. It also confirms that arbitrary arrests and forced deportations ordered by the Lebanese authorities are still persisting and focuses on presenting testimonies from victims and survivors through which it reviews the stages of the incidents and related violations to which refugees were exposed.

The testimonies that ACHR obtained from the victims recounted horrific events and violations to which refugees were subjected, from the moment of security raids on their places of residence, their arbitrary arrest, then their transfer to military barracks belonging to the Lebanese Army, and their interrogation using methods that include beating, insulting, harassing, and bullying, then transporting them collectively to the border crossings and handing them over to the Syrian authorities illegally. Another stage of violations committed by the Syrian authorities is set to unfold, including security investigations, military, political and civil settlement procedures, arbitrary arrest and detention, passing through military and civil courts, and in some cases subjecting them to forced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and processing those of compulsory or reserve military service age to join the Syrian army. In some cases, refugees are forcibly re-handed over by the Syrian Army’s Fourth Division to smuggling gangs on the border, which in turn detains refugees in their homes and border farms, manipulate their fate, and exploit their vulnerable situation to blackmail them financially and sexually, and take advantage of their plight. Also, the testimonies indicated the possibility of coordination between the two countries at various levels to receive deported refugees at the Lebanese Syrian border, between the Lebanese army and the Syrian army, and between the Syrian army’s Fourth Division and smuggling gangs, and some individuals from the Lebanese army.

As for the cases that were forcibly deported and arrived inside Syria after their release, they were unable to return to their original areas for several reasons, including: the destruction of the original areas due to military operations, the fear of arrest, elimination, or killing by the Syrian authorities present there or the militias and armed groups that control their areas, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi armed groups in the areas east of the Euphrates, and Hezbollah and other armed groups in the Qalamoun and Qusayr mountain range at the border with Lebanon. Some testimonies also indicated that their original areas are located in northwestern Syria in Idlib Governorate, which is controlled by armed groups from the opposition and is absolutely inaccessible. These decisions -including the decisions issued from the last Government- violate the International Declaration of Human Rights. To which Lebanon has explicitly committed itself in the introduction of its constitution.

According to the Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR)’s monitoring of the human rights situation of Syrian refugees over the past five years, Lebanon is still using the Syrian refugee file as a bargaining chip and pressure on the international community, noting that escalation always occurs before international conferences in support of Syria, such as the Brussels conference, which is supposed to be held in the second quarter of this year.

The Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) recommends that the Lebanese Government adhere to international and local agreements and laws, the most important of which is adherence to Article Three of the Convention against Torture[2], which is guaranteed by the Constitution, and grants refugees the right to legal protection and any plans to return them or enforce force deportations to Syria must be halted. ACHR also calls for the cancellation of the implementation of decisions that allow the deportation of refugees, including Supreme Defense Council Resolution No. 50\AR\XEAH\L of April 15, 2019, and Director General of Public Security Decision No. 43830\U.R.X of May 13, 2019.

The Lebanese government must also stop media incitement against refugees within the statements of politicians and government officials, and develop clear policies for how to deal with refugees in accordance with the Lebanese Constitution and Lebanon’s obligations to international law, and allow victims threatened with deportation to appeal those decisions issued against them before the competent judicial authorities, and grant refugees the right to request legal residency and appeal rejection without imposing impossible conditions.

ACHR recommends that UNHCR activates the role of its protection office, provide legal representation, respond to urgent requests to assist refugees that are at risk of deportation, always give priority to the protection of refugees at risk of deportation, activate resettlement policies or temporary protection in third countries, and provide shelter for refugees who lack security in their places of residence.

ACHR also recommends that the international community and donors work to put pressure on the Lebanese government to take decisive actions to combat forced deportations and call on it to reverse forced deportation decisions and periodic random arrests of refugees, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers. 

 

Lebanon violates human rights by forcibly deporting refugees[1]

https://www.achrights.org/2023/05/19/13153/

[2] Global Detention Project, "Country Detention Report Immigration on Detention in Lebanon: Deprivation of Liberty at the Frontiers of Global Conflict", February 2018, https://bit.ly/3IUEq9q.