Human rights organizations call upon Lebanon to halt deportation of Syria refugees News
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Human rights organizations call upon Lebanon to halt deportation of Syria refugees

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), along with 20 other human rights organizations, issued a joint statement on Thursday calling out Lebanon’s deportation of Syrian refugees. The human rights organizations claim the deportations violate the international law principle of non-refoulement, which protects individuals from being returned to a country where they face torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm.

In calling for an immediate halt of summary deportations of Syrian refugees, the human rights organizations say that Lebanon has violated the international law principle of non-refoulement. Lebanon, as a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), is obligated not to extradite any individual who may be in danger of facing torture in their home country–otherwise known as non-refoulement. The organizations also stated that the courts should prohibit deportations that may constitute refoulement and abstain from implementing discriminatory measures targeted at Syrian refugees.

The organizations also call on Lebanese authorities to respect due process and “ensure that anyone at risk of deportation to Syria has the opportunity to see a lawyer, meet with [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] and to argue their case for protection and against deportation in a competent court.”

According to the human rights organizations, Lebanese Armed Forces “summarily deported hundreds of Syrians back to Syria” amid an escalation in coercive measures employed by Lebanon to pressure refugees to return to their countries of origin. Coercive measures include imposing curfews on Syrian refugees to restrict their movement and ability to rent housing, as well as deporting Syrian refugees upon conducting discriminatory raids on their houses.

According to deportees interviewed by Amnesty International, the Lebanese Army handed them directly to Syrian authorities at the border without providing them with the opportunity to challenge their deportation or seek legal protection. Some of these deportees were thereafter arrested or have disappeared upon returning to Syria. In addition, local and international organizations have documented “horrific violations committed by Syrian military and security forces against Syrian returnees,” such as unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, rape, sexual violence and other ill-treatment.

This is not the first time Lebanon has faced international condemnation for their treatment of refugees. Previously in May 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights published a report which found that Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon face disastrous conditions, with 88 per cent living below minimum survival conditions. Millions of Syrian refugees have fled Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2010, creating the world’s largest refugee crisis in decades. Many refugees live in extreme poverty, supported only through international assistance and benefits from their host countries.