More Syrians commiting suicide after Lebanese deportation order

As Lebanon increases its hostility to Syrian refugees and prisoners, 4 men detained in a prison near Beirut were pictured attempting to commit suicide by ejecting themselves from a high building, Asharq Al-Awsat and agencies reported on March 5. 

The Lebanese government recently implemented fresh deportation standards much to the outrage of human rights groups worldwide who have also castigated the country for its abject prison conditions. 

The new immigration law means that Syrian who have committed a crime in Lebanon are sent back to where they came from following their sentence. 

A country which has endured an ongoing civil war since 2011, Syrians have in large numbers fled their country with many heading to neighbouring countries and/or the European continent. Lebanon is home to 1.5 million refugees. 

The four attempting to take their own lives were held in the notorious Roumieh Prison, the largest prison in the country which holds around 4,000 inmates as of July 2023, were all related. 

A security source noted that the individuals in question were “among those who defected from the Syrian army months after the start of the uprising in Syria and joined armed organisations, and are being tried in terrorism cases in Lebanon.” 

The deportation order comes despite the Lebanese government and the UN signing an agreement which would guarantee that no Syrian national would be extradited back to Syria if they were a defector from the Assad regime’s forces or who joined the Syrian uprising.

READ: Lebanon refuses to take back Syrian refugees

The security source added that the quartet “tried to commit suicide after they were informed that Lebanese authorities had handed over the two brothers’ sibling to the Syrian regime on the 1st of March.” 

Syrians make up just under 30% of the prison population across the whole of Lebanon. The number of those from Syria behind bars is at 1,850. 

The Lebanese government’s increasingly rigorous anti-immigrant sentiment was emphasised by Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi claiming that the refugee crisis had become unbearable and that Syrian migrants were a threat to the country’s demographics. 

Prison conditions have also been a cause for concern for human rights groups as US-based NGO Human Rights Watch discussed the lack of food and severe overcrowding in a report published in August 2023. 

The report said, “Prison conditions in Lebanon have dangerously deteriorated amid the country’s economic crisis. Overcrowding has become the norm, healthcare is subpar, and the government’s failure to pay outstanding bills has endangered the food supply for the country’s prisons. 

“Lebanese authorities have also failed to carry out previously approved government plans to relieve overcrowding. In 2015, the Lebanese government agreed to allocate $30 million to build a new prison in the town of Mejdlaya, in northern Lebanon, with then Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, stating that the construction project would be completed in 18 months. Eight years later, the prison has not been built.”

Asharq Al-Awsat/ Human Rights Watch 

 

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