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Lebanon escalates its denial of civil rights for Palestinian Refugees

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The Government of Lebanon increasingly deprives Palestinian refugees of due process if they are accused of an infraction.

For example, Lebanon bizarrely does not differentiate among various types of crimes with respect to Palestinian refugees who are arrested and prosecuted. This illegal practice completely abrogates internationally required due process of law for Palestinians in this country. Lebanon employs informants and suspicion to arrest Palestinian refugees, usually by intelligence agencies and often in violation of Lebanon law. Rather than conducting investigations and summoning the suspect for interrogation, Lebanon treats the refugees as convicted until proven innocent. Lebanon increasingly prevents even family communication and routinely employs assault, coercion and intimidation during interrogation of Palestinian refugees while frequently failing to allow legal counsel for the accused to defend the often fake charges.

Typically, following interrogation in a "security intelligence way" the Palestinian refugee is transferred to the competent authority. As for the detention duration without trial, Lebanon ignores international standards and employs no timeframe for trial. As an example, since 2007 Lebanese authorities have been arbitrarily holding Nahr al Bared detainees, without trial. Many not charged with a crime. These kinds of abuses shatter any pretense of Lebanon having a legitimate criminal legal system with respect to Palestinian refugees.

Lebanon is guilty of Refoulment, forcing Palestinian refugees back into Syria's civil war

One of many examples of how Lebanese authorities routinely violate the civil rights of Palestinian refugees occurred at Beirut's International Airport on May 3 of 2014. By coincidence, this observer, who currently lives near the airport, was present to meet an arriving friend.

What happened was that in violation of all international and humanitarian norms, and international treaties and conventions that Lebanon has signed and agreed upon Lebanese security authorities arrested 49 refugees from Syria, mostly Palestinians, among them women and children, while trying to travel using fake visas heading to an Arab country, and after referring to Public Prosecution Discriminatory, they were transported to court on order of Lebanon's General Security. Obviously it's the right of the Lebanese government to arrest anyone carrying a fake visa, but without due process they were rapidly taken to Public Prosecution during the weekend when the courts and La Maison des Avocats were closed. The detainees were forced back to Syria within 24 hours. Any pretense of employing minimal due process would have required that the detainees be taken to a detention center until until Monday morning, to be brought before a public prosecutor, who might refer them to an investigating judge and then to the court for a trial, As it turned out, the refugees were victims of a scam, which would imply an investigation to uncover the perpetrator of the fraud. Instead, as happens in countless cases involving Palestinian refugees, Lebanon punished the victims, who were victims again also of arbitrary exile and Lebanese officials denying them a due process humanitarian trial.

An excellent report prepared by a coalition of organizations of civil society, including the Palestine Human Rights Organization (PHR0) working within Palestinian refugee communities in Lebanon identified additional examples of internationally mandated civil rights of Palestinian refugees being increasingly violated by the Lebanese government. These include, but are not limited to, blocking Palestinian women from seeking justice in competent Courts as opposed to camp 'popular committee" notions of justice thus depriving Palestinian women of protection and enjoyment of their civil rights, turning a blind eye to forced marriage of girls and sexual abuse, allowing the involvement of children in regional armed conflicts, failing to act on complaints that document human trafficking of Palestinian women and children, denying Palestinian refugees the right to free opinion and expression, denying Palestinian refugees the right to freedom of association or to even form or join associations.

The justice for Palestine struggle continues on many fronts and it must and will do until the human right of Full Return is achieved. One front that requires our vigilance and action in these turbulent times are the ever deteriorating civil rights of Palestinians in Lebanon.

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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