Lebanon News

Iraqi refugee extradition ‘violates’ UNCAT

BEIRUT: Iraqi refugee Zeyad al-Dolaee, charged by Iraqi authorities with terrorist activity, was extradited to his home country Wednesday despite attempts to persuade Lebanese authorities to deny the Iraqi authorities’ request. The extradition has come under fire from international organizations, which claim that the extradition is a violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture.

Article 3 of UNCAT stipulates that “no state party shall expel, return or extradite a person” to their home country if there is “substantial grounds” for belief that the person would be subjected to torture on their return. Lebanon ratified UNCAT in 2000 but has yet to fully implement it.

Saadeddine Shatila, head of the Lebanese branch of the human rights-focused Al-Karama Foundation, told The Daily Star that Dolaee would now undoubtedly face danger in Iraq.

“We know very well that those charged with terrorism in Iraq are often subjected to torture,” Shatila further explained.

In a separate conversation, a United Nations source said that the extradition seemed to be in violation of UNCAT.

“We do not look at the substance of the case, whether he really is a criminal or his background,” the source told The Daily Star.

“The only thing we’re looking at is his extradition to Iraq. With the current judicial system in Iraq, we don’t think that they are capable and able to ensure his safety.”

Dolaee, who fled Iraq in 2010, initially obtained refugee status with UNHCR in Syria. In January 2016, he traveled to Lebanon, where he was scheduled to have an interview at the Canadian Embassy for his asylum application.

Following this interview, Dolaee was apprehended by Army Intelligence, who had received information from Iraqi authorities that he was allegedly involved in terrorist activity.

After nine months in detention, Dolaee was sentenced to a year in prison. Authorities subsequently received an extradition request from Iraq, calling for Dolaee’s return after the full completion of his sentence.

During Lebanon’s April appearance before the U.N.’s Committee Against Torture, a panel of independent experts raised their concerns over Dolaee’s case.

According to Shatila, various international organizations, which prefer to remain anonymous, have made appeals to the Justice Ministry against the extradition.

Judge Nazek al-Khatib, liaison officer for anti-torture cases at the Justice Ministry, told The Daily Star that Dolaee’s extradition did not violate UNCAT.

“The decision taken by the minister is not against human rights, or against Article 3 of the CAT,” Khatib said.

Dolaee’s lawyer was unable to comment on the case in time.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 10, 2017, on page 2.

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