Cedar Centre For Legal Studies

Case Title

The Enforced Disappearance of Mr. Abedullah Al Zohouri

08/07/2024

Handcuffed man behind prison bars
Handcuffed man behind prison bars

08/07/2024

Introduction

Mr. Abedullah Al Zohouri is a Syrian, born in 1983 in Al-Qusayr, Homs Governorate. He served as a captain in the Syrian Army. In 2012, he defected from the Syrian regime amidst the ongoing conflict. Seeking safety, he fled Syria with his family in 2013 and entered Lebanon, where they took refuge in a camp in Arsal, located in the northeast of Beirut, Baalbek-Hermel Governorate.

Legal Framework

The legal framework surrounding this case involves several key pieces of legislation and international conventions:

  1. Lebanese Criminal Procedure Law: Particularly the recent amendment to Article 47, which grants detainees the right to have legal representation during initial interrogations by security agencies.
  2. Enforced Disappearance Law in Lebanon (2018): The law no. 108 specifically addresses the crime of enforced disappearance, aiming to prevent such occurrences and provide recourse for victims and their families.
  3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): Lebanon has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1972. Several articles are relevant to this case:

   – Article 9: Protects the right to liberty and security of person, stipulating that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

   – Article 7: Prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

   – Article 10: Mandates that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.

Timeline of the Events

– 2012: Mr. Al Zohouri defects from the Syrian Army.

– 2013: Mr. Al Zohouri and his family flee to Lebanon and settle in a refugee camp in Arsal.

– May 27, 2024: Mr. Al Zohouri is arrested by members of the Lebanese Army Intelligence, Ablah branch.

– June 11, 2024: Mr. Al Zohouri is reportedly handed over to Syrian Military Security Branch 291 at 1:30 PM.

– June 13, 2024: Head of the Legal Support Program at CCLS, on behalf of Mr. Al Zohouri’s family, submits a complaint of enforced disappearance to the Public Prosecutor of the Cassation Court.

– June 22, 2024: Cedar Centre for Legal Studies submits the case to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

– July 8, 2024: Mr. Al Zohouri’s family learns informally that he is detained at the Palestine Branch in Syria.

Legal Violations

The handling of Mr. Al Zohouri’s case by the Lebanese authorities involved several legal violations:

  1. Denial of Legal Representation: Mr. Al Zohouri was not allowed to meet or contact his family or have a lawyer present during his initial interrogation, in case it had happened; violating the amended Article 47 of the Lebanese Criminal Procedure Law.
  2. Unlawful deportation: Mr. Al Zohouri was handed over to Syrian authorities without being presented to the director of General Security Service or Public Prosecutor of Cassation Court, bypassing established legal procedures.
  3. Enforced Disappearance: The failure to disclose Mr. Al Zohouri’s whereabouts and the lack of due process constitutes an enforced disappearance, a grave violation of human rights under international law.
  4. Breach of Enforced Disappearance Law (2018): This case violates Article 37 of the Enforced Disappearance Law in Lebanon, which explicitly prohibits the act of enforced disappearance and mandates the state to protect individuals from such practices.
  5. Violation of ICCPR Articles:

 – Article 9: Mr. Al Zohouri’s arbitrary arrest and detention without due process contravene his right to liberty and security.

   – Article 7: The secretive nature of his detention and the potential for mistreatment raise concerns under the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment.

  – Article 10: The lack of transparency and humane treatment in his detention is a direct violation of the requirement to treat all detainees with respect for their inherent dignity.

Conclusion

The enforced disappearance of Mr. Abedullah Al Zohouri highlights significant breaches of both national and international legal standards by the Lebanese authorities. Despite efforts by the Cedar Centre for Legal Studies to seek justice and clarity on Mr. Al Zohouri’s fate, his whereabouts remain uncertain. This case underscores the urgent need for adherence to legal protections for detainees and the critical role of international bodies in addressing enforced disappearances.