Thursday, March 31, 2011

Press Release: Lebanon: Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Beirut, March 31, 2011

The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) published today a report entitled “Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Lebanon: Languishing in Injustice”. This study is part of the “Multimedia Virtual Space for Human Rights” project funded by the European Union. It is carried out by the Italian NGO COSV (Coordination Committee of the Organizations for Voluntary Service) in partnership with three Lebanese NGOs: KAFA (Enough) Violence & Exploitation, the Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) and the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH).

This report describes the general legal framework surrounding the issue of asylum seekers and refugees in Lebanon from a Human Rights perspective while shedding light on the alleged violations of their rights and proposing clear recommendations for the improvement of their situation.

The report, published on the project website ( ), documents the major challenges that confront the refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon, mainly because of the non-conformity of the Lebanese laws with Lebanon international commitments. Beside the violations of their economic and social rights, they are regularly subjected to arbitrary detention, torture and deportations to their country of origin.

Despite the fact that the Lebanese government keeps repeating that the country is not a party to the 1951 Geneva convention on the refugees status and insists that Lebanon is not a « refuge country », it seemed nevertheless important to remind that the Lebanese authorities attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers constitute a violation of other Lebanon’s international commitments. Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture are part of the Human Rights international commitments of Lebanon that also provide to the refugees and asylum seekers a protection against arbitrary detention, torture and deportations.

In conclusion, this report, after describing the violations and their negative impact on the refugees’ situation, presents its recommendations to the various relevant actors. The main recommendations are the following:

To the Civil Society:

- Launch a social debate on the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

To the Ministry of Interior:

- Close down the General Security detention center.

- Negotiate a new memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR.

- Exercise effective control over security institutions.

- Strictly implement the judicial decisions and put an end to arbitrary administrative detention.

- Give instructions to all services under the Ministry of Interior which are habilitated to proceed to arrests in order to prohibit the arrest of asylum seekers and refugees recognized by the UNHCR on the sole basis of illegal entry/stay.

- Give information to the Internal Security Forces on the status of asylum seekers and refugees as well as all necessary information to ensure that their rights are respected in case of detention.

- Immediately release all persons who have served their prison sentences.

- Revoke the existing agreement between the General Security and the Internal Security Forces which imposes the transfer of foreigners to the General Security Detention Center after they have completed their sentence.

- Provide for asylum seekers and refugees rights at least equal to those of other migrants.

- Put an immediate end to all deportation of asylum seekers and refugees.

- Grant UNHCR unlimited and unconditional access to any persons within its mandate at the General Security detention center, as well as lawyers and human rights organizations.

To the UNHCR:

- Negotiate a new memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Interior.

- Provide sufficient means to the question for persons of concern to UNHCR, notably those detained in Lebanon.

- Publicly denounce the violations of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

To the Ministry of Justice:

- Implement appropriate measures to ensure respect for the rights of foreigners in general, and for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees notably in terms of access to Justice and rights of the defense.

- Request from the judges no to take any deportation decision against any person, registered or no with UNHCR and raising fears if returned to his/her country of origin.

To the Parliament:

- Amend the 1962 Law Regulating the Entry and Stay of Foreigners in Lebanon and their Exit from the Country in order to guarantee the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

- Consider alternative non-custodial measures, such as regular reporting to the authorities.

1 comment:

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