Allegations of torture of a refugee at the airport
The Ministry of Interior and the UNHCR unable to protect refugees against the scandalous practices of the General Security
Ala As Sayad, 24 years old, an Iraqi refugee recognized by the UNHCR has allegedly been deported to Iraq on Wednesday, after two years of arbitrary detention in Lebanon. Yet the Lebanese Justice had ordered his immediate release in March 2010.
Led on Wednesday at 6am from the underground General Security retention center (where he had been languishing for several months) to Beirut international airport, in pajamas and without his personal effects, Ala As Sayad was allegedly placed in retention at the airport . He had been resisting for several months the pressure exerted by the General Security to make him sign a "voluntary" repatriation to Iraq. He has always refused to sign this document and had duly notified the officer of the General Security about it at the airport. At his insistence and refusal to return to his country, 7 General Security agents reportedly severely beat him on the head and all over his body until he lost consciousness. He was then allegedly brought to the plane in a semi-comatose state.
The UNHCR, informed in advance of the decision to deport Ala As Sayad on Wednesday morning, apparently did not consider it useful to send anyone to the airport to try to clarify the situation.
On March 12, 2010 the Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud declared "freezing all forced deportation of refugees and having decided to apply any judicial decisions of release." Ala As Sayad’s expulsion instead of his release in Lebanon shows that the Ministry of Interior and its services do not implement these statements and still refuse to enforce judicial decisions ordering the release of persons, just like the provisions of the Convention against Torture.
This case represents indeed a triple serious violation of the Convention against Torture, ratified by Lebanon in 2000 and to which the country is obliged to comply under its constitution.
First, the prolonged detention of Ala As Sayad in inhumane conditions in order to force him to sign documents is a common method of torture used by the General Security against refugees.
Second, if these facts are true, the General Security would have been guilty on Wednesday of acts of physical torture against the person of Ala As Sayad.
Finally, the expulsion of a person to a country where he may face threats to his physical and psychological integrity constitutes a violation of Article 3 of the Convention against Torture.