BEIRUT: Lawyers of six Syrian refugees arrested in Lebanon said on Sunday that the country’s security services have given them a 24-hour ultimatum — either leave Lebanon to a third country or be deported to Syria, the war-ravaged country they fled.
Lawyer Mohammed Sablouh said the move is highly unusual, is a violation of Lebanon’s international obligations and laws, and seriously endangers the men’s lives.
The authorities “know very well that since the (men) were arrested outside the embassy, they are therefore wanted by the Syrian regime, and there is a really high probability they would be tortured or in grave danger,” Sablouh told The Associated Press. “This is a violation of the anti-torture convention and Lebanese laws.”
There was no immediate comment from Lebanese security, and it is not immediately clear who is responsible for the decision that came 10 days after the men’s arrest, and without a court ruling.
The threat of deportation is particularly concerning given that violence has recently resumed in the hometown of most of the arrested Syrians.
Five of the men are from the southern province of Daraa, where clashes have recently erupted between government and allied forces and opposition gunmen, wrecking a three-year old Russian-negotiated truce.
According to Lebanese law, the men should be put on trial, and could be either sentenced to prison or sent home after serving their sentences.
Lebanon is home to over 1 million Syrian refugees, who now make up more than a quarter of the population.
In Spring of 2019, Lebanon’s Higher Defense Council, a government body in charge of national security and headed by the president, decided to deport refugees who entered Lebanon “illegally” after April 2019 — a clear violation of international laws. Amnesty International said since then and up until August of the same year, nearly 2,500 Syrians were forcibly deported back to Syria.