The Directorate of Documentation of Violations and Human Rights in the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) stressed that the Lebanese authorities’ plan to return Syrian refugees to the Assad regime-held areas constitutes a blatant violation of international law and humanitarian values.
In a press release issued on Friday, the Directorate said that this process essentially means “handing over the victim to the criminal” as those behind this plan are well aware of the grim fate awaiting the returnees, namely execution, arrest, forced disappearance, and torture.
The Directorate added that these returns cannot be considered voluntary whatsoever in view of the pressure that the Lebanese authorities are exerting on Syrian refugees, citing an Amnesty International report issued in October 2022 confirming that Syria is unsafe for refugees return.
The Directorate also said that the current conditions in Syria, especially in the regime-held areas, do not meet the minimum requirements for a safe and voluntary return. It said that these conditions have already been confirmed by multiples reports and statements, the latest of which was a report by the UN Human Rights Council issued at its 51st session earlier in October. It also cited the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued in last September, which concluded that the Assad regime did not provide a safe or stable environment for the return of refugees.
Moreover, the Directorate stressed that the Lebanese authorities’ actions constitute a grave breach of international norms and conventions that prohibit countries from deporting refugees to places where their lives or freedom may be threatened. It cited the 1951 Refugees Convention, the Final Act of the UN Conference of 1954, and the UN Declaration on Territorial Asylum of 1967.
The Directorate called on the Lebanese authorities to honor their obligations and to stop the return of Syrian refugees to the regime-held areas given the imminent dangers that threaten their lives. It called on the international community and relevant international organizations, especially the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to intervene immediately to stop the forced return of Syrian refugees and save innocent lives from the grim fate awaiting them. (Source: SOC’s media department)