The GDP has been unable to find any reports indicating whether measures have been taken to safeguard migrants and asylum seekers in detention in Lebanon, in particular at the country’s main immigration detention centre in Beirut. Many migrants and refugees can also end up in prisons for extended periods of time. But there are growing concerns about the impact of the Coronavirus on the country’s large refugee population.
Human Rights Watch has reported that 21 municipalities in Lebanon have introduced discriminatory restrictions on Syrian refugees that do not apply to Lebanese residents, as part of their efforts to combat Covid-19. For instance, at least eight municipalities have implemented curfews that restrict the movement of Syrian refugees to certain times. The Brital municipality in Baalbek announced that Syrians are only allowed to move around the municipality between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then only to perform necessary tasks. Authorities said that Syrians caught violating the measures could face legal measures and that their identity documentation could be confiscated.
Riots have erupted in at least two prisons in Lebanon as prisoners demanded to be released over fears the country’s coronavirus outbreak will spread rapidly among prisons. 25 prisoners sentenced for minor crimes were freed from one of the country’s prisons and the head of the Bar Association in the north said that this could lead to the release of about 200 detainees from Tripoli Prison, meaning 15-20% of its prisoners. Prisoners in several penal institutions throughout the country have begun hunger-strikes requesting the government to release them. On 31 March 2020, Lebanese authorities indicated that there were no cases of Covid-19 within the prison of Roumieh.
- T. Azhari, “Riots Rock Overcrowded Lebanon Prisons Over Coronavirus Fears,” Al Jazeera, 17 March 2020, www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/riots-rock-overcrowded-lebanon-prisons-coronavirus-fears-200317164301234.html
- Y. Diab, “Lebanese Judicial Measures to Ease Pressure on Overcrowded Prisons”, Asharq Al-Awsat, 28 March 2020, https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/2204081/lebanese-judicial-measures-ease-pressure-overcrowded-prisons
- Timour Azhari (@timourazhari), Twitter, https://bit.ly/2JDuHs9
- N. Houssari, “Lebanese break social distancing rules”, Arab News, 31 March 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1650191/middle-east
- HRW, “Lebanon: Refugees at Risk in Covid-19 Response”, 2 April 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/02/lebanon-refugees-risk-covid-19-response
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Lebanon, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/lebanon