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General Security Releases 35 Refugees from Prolonged Administrative Detention

Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

General Security Releases 35 Refugees from Prolonged Administrative Detention -- on the Eve of the UN’s Adoption of the Global Compact on Migration

Between November 23 and December 7, Lebanese General Security granted a temporary release to 35 detained refugees and asylum seekers, from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen. 31 are refugees recognized by the UNHCR and 4 are asylum seekers waiting for the UNHCR to assess their claims. According to their reports, 33 received permits for a 1-week release, which can be renewed at General Security. The refugees had been held in administrative detention in General Security for months - between 1.5 months and two years - for lacking residency papers, not for criminal charges.

Three men, two Sudanese and one Yemeni, had engaged in a hunger strike before their release, to protest the conditions of their detention in General Security. The men report that dozens of people are still detained, many with closed refugee files.

This news came right before the UN’s adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration on December 10, the first intergovernmental agreement to address international migration. Lebanon is expected to sign the Global Compact, which is an important step towards respect for migrant rights and fair migration policies. We are encouraged by this release, and hope these developments lead to government policies that prohibit prolonged administrative detention of refugees and migrant workers, and deportation of refugees.

The released refugees include Adam and Ali, who received deportation orders in November despite their refugee status. At the time of their release, General Security gave Adam and Ali one month to find resettlement, or they will be deported back to Sudan. We welcome their release, but are concerned by the conditions, as finding resettlement in 1 month is almost impossible. Only 1% of refugees worldwide are resettled and the process generally takes months, if not years. We ask that Adam and Ali be given a reprieve and that their deportation orders be canceled.

While the details around the release are unclear, this is an encouraging step towards more just and humane practices, respecting the rights of refugees and migrant workers in Lebanon.

Anti-Racism Movement (ARM)

Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)