Syrian refugee forcibly disappeared following deportation from Lebanon

Syrian refugee forcibly disappeared following deportation from Lebanon

Syrian refugee Hadi Al Zuhuri was expelled by the Lebanese authorities to his country of origin on October 12, 2019. He was immediately arrested by the Syrian authorities at the Jdeidet Yabous border crossing between Lebanon and Syria. He was then taken to an unknown location and his fate and whereabouts remain unknown to date.
Latest Updates
October 15, 2019: MENA Rights Group requests urgent intervention of UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
October 12, 2019: Sent back to Syria via the Jdeidet Yabous border crossing ; Arrested by the Syrian Immigration and Passport Department.
September 2019: Public Prosecutor of the Baabda Court ordered his removal to Syria.
2016: Arrested by the Military intelligence; the Juvenile Court of Zahlé sentenced him to three years in prison for “attempted murder” and “belonging to an armed group”.
August 5, 2013: Registration with UNHCR.
June 16, 2013: Moves to Lebanon after fleeing Syria.

Al Zuhuri and his parents fled from Syria in 2013 after his father was wanted by the Syrian authorities for participating in peaceful protests in 2011.They registered with the UNHCR shortly after finding refuge in Lebanon. They decided to settle in Zahlé in the Bekaa governorate.

In July 2016, Al Zuhuri was arrested by the Lebanese Military Intelligence before being referred to the Military Court. As he was still a minor at the time of committing the alleged offence, his case was referred to the Juvenile Court in Zahlé, which sentenced him to three years in prison for “attempted murder” and “belonging to an armed group”. In September 2018, he was sentenced to an additional one and a half years in prison for “drug trafficking” by the Baabda Court House.

In September 2019, when Al Zuhuri’s initial prison sentence was about to be served, his father demanded if his son could serve the two sentences concurrently so that he can be released. Although his request was accepted, Al Zuhuri’s father was informed that a deportation order had been filed by the Public Prosecutor of the Baabda Court.

On October 12 2019, the Lebanese General Security Directorate handed over Al Zuhuri and four other Syrian refugees, who had also served prison terms in Lebanon, to the Syrian authorities. The transfer occurred at the Jdeidet Yabous border crossing. Following the hand over, they were immediately arrested by the Syrian Immigration and Passport Department. They were then taken to an unknown location. He was seen the next day by a close friend of the family on board a military truck circulating in Damascus.

Al Zuhuri’s deportation constitute a clear violation of the non-refoulement principle as his application for refugee status was still pending before the UNHCR. The Lebanese authorities could not have ignored the substantial grounds for believing that Al Zuhuri would be in danger of being subjected to enforced disappearance and torture upon his return to Syria.