The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have arbitrarily arrested and summarily deported thousands of Syrians, including unaccompanied children, to Syria between April and May 2023, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
“Syrians in Lebanon are living in constant fear that they could be picked up and sent back to nightmarish conditions, regardless of their refugee status,” aid Ramzi Kaiss, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch.
HRW pointed out that while there are no official public statistics on the number of arrests or deportations, a humanitarian source said that, since April 2023, there have been over 100 raids, 2,200 arrests, and 1,800 deportations of Syrian refugees. Humanitarian workers said that the 2023 deportation wave is the most severe.
One person interviewed said that Syrian Military Intelligence had arrested him and 12 other people following their deportation and detained them in the Branch 235 prison, better known as the Palestine Branch, in Damascus. He said they had been severely tortured, including through electric shocks, beaten with a water pipe, and hung from the ceiling by their hands.
The watchdog group stressed that the LAF’s summary deportation of Syrians is in clear breach of Lebanese law, which requires deportations to be conducted through a judicial authority or, in exceptional cases, by the decision of the General Director of General Security based on an assessment of individual circumstances.
HRW also stressed that governments funding the LAF should press the military to end summary deportations of Syrians. Donor governments should also develop a public human rights impact assessment and press Lebanon to allow an independent reporting mechanism to ensure that funding does not contribute to or perpetuate human rights violations.
(Source: SOC’s Media Department)