Cedar Centre For Legal Studies

Case Title

Lebanese Authorities Should Not Deport Jumaa Laheeb


Press release | 15 March 2024

The Cedar Centre for Legal Studies (CCLS) urgently brings to light the case of Jumaa Mohammad Laheeb, a Syrian researcher affiliated with the Research and Studies Department of the opposition Syrian Future Movement. On 28 November 2011, he arrived in Lebanon with his family. However, recent developments on 06 March 2024 have seen the issuance of a decision by the Lebanese General Security to deport him and his family back to Syria, exposing them to severe risks under the Syrian authorities.

Background of the Case

Jumaa Mohammad Laheeb from Maarat al-Numan, Idlib, Syria, was arrested in August 2011 by the Syrian Political Security Department for his outspoken activism and charged with participating in public demonstrations, communicating with so-called hostile media and allegedly damaging the reputation of the state.

During his detention in Syria, he was subjected to severe torture. After having been placed in several detention centres, he ultimately was incarcerated in a civilian prison in Idlib. After his father submitted three release requests, he was eventually granted bail after three months of imprisonment.

On 28 November 2011, he arrived in Lebanon with his family. Since 22 July 2013, he has been registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beirut. Mr. Laheeb has been actively engaged in research at the Research and Studies Department of the Syrian Future Movement, advocating for democratic reforms, human rights, and political change in Syria. His outspoken opposition to the oppressive regime and efforts to shed light on the challenges faced by Syrians have made him a target of concern.

Despite fulfilling all legal requirements and seeking renewal of his residency through UNHCR sponsorship, Mr. Laheeb and his family are now facing the threat of deportation, as per the decision by the Lebanese General Security on 06 March 2024. They have been ordered to return within 20 days to facilitate the implementation of the deportation order and retrieve their identity documents.

Legal Arguments and Concerns

The Cedar Centre for Legal Studies (CCLS) stresses that Mr. Laheeb’s return to Syria would subject him to a grave risk of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, particularly given his affiliation with an opposition party. Such action would constitute a violation of the principle of non-refoulement under Article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture, to which Lebanon has been a party since 05 October 2000. Moreover, in its 2017 Concluding Observations, the Committee against Torture urged Lebanon not to expel individuals to states where they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Furthermore, the General Security’s authority in matters of deportation, which is not subject to judicial review, raises significant concerns. In the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee on Lebanon’s third periodic report in May 2018, pointed to the broad discretionary powers granted to the General Security Office, including decisions on detention and deportation, without adequate appeal mechanisms.

Referring to Amnesty International’s report of 07 September 2021, which documented severe human rights violations upon the return of individuals to Syria, the CCLS emphasises that the current situation in Syria makes any return illegal under the principle of non-refoulement. Amnesty International’s findings emphasise the real risk of persecution faced by returnees and therefore making any forced return to Syria unacceptable.

Syria is not a safe state and according to a report issued by OHCHR Syria Country Office in February 2024 forced returnees still have to fear to be arbitrarily arrested, detained, and tortured.

CCLS’s Interventions and Current Status

In light of these alarming developments, the CCLS raised Mr Laheeb’s case with the UNHCR office in Beirut on 13 March 2024 and submitted an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The appeal urges these UN agencies to intervene and request the Lebanese authorities to refrain from extraditing Mr. Laheeb and his family in order to ensure their safety and defend their fundamental rights.

On 15 March 2024, an officer of the General Directorate of General Security called Mr Laheeb to inform him, that his file will be reconsidered by the General Directorate of General Security.

Call to Action

We ask the civil society to help Mr Laheeb and his family by making enquiries about the status of his protection in Lebanon to the relevant Lebanese authorities.