17 février 2015
(Beirut) – Lebanon’s General Security should immediately reveal the whereabouts of two Syrian nationals who disappeared following their transfer to its custody, one in October 2014 and the other in November.
General Security, the country’s security agency in charge of foreigners’ entry and residency, has refused to disclose what happened to the men, Osama Qaraqouz and Bassel Haydar, despite repeated requests for information from their relatives and Human Rights Watch. Their families fear that General Security deported them back to Syria and into the custody of the Syrian government. General Security’s concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the two men could amount to the crime of enforced disappearance.
“The Lebanese authorities need to come clean about what happened to these two men and whether they were sent into the hands of a government that is likely to torture them,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Refusing to disclose their whereabouts denies the men basic protections and makes the Lebanese authorities complicit in any harm that comes to them.”
Relatives and friends of the two men separately told Human Rights Watch that they feared they were forcibly returned to Syria after being transferred to General Security custody from Roumieh prison, where they were serving short sentences for security related offenses, despite their fear of detention and torture by the Syrian authorities.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees General Security, and the judiciary should investigate General Security’s practices and penalize officers responsible for any enforced disappearances or forcible deportations to Syria, Human Rights Watch said.