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Lebanon: Iraqi refugee at high risk of torture and arbitrary execution due to imminent extradition

Zyad Al Dolae

Iraqi refugee Zeyad Al Dolaee is currently detained pending final decision about an extradition request against him by the Iraqi authorities, who want him on the basis of alleged accusations of terrorism. Notwithstanding the Public Prosecutor’s view opposing it, Al Dolaee informally got to know that the Ministry of Justice was preparing a decree accepting his extradition request. On 23 March 2017, Alkarama sent his case to Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) asking him to call upon the Lebanese authorities to abstain from extraditing him, as he would be at extremely high risk of torture, and even execution, in Iraq.

A 48-year-old Iraqi electrical engineer, Al Dolaee left Iraq in 2010 to visit his father, a former general in the Iraqi Army, affiliated to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in Syria, where he discovered he was wanted by the Iraqi authorities for alleged crimes of terrorism. Al Dolaee therefore decided to remain in Syria, where he obtained UNHCR refugee status. He subsequently travelled to Lebanon, where he had a meeting with the Canadian embassy to obtain a visa for asylum in the country.

On 23 January 2016, Al Dolaee was in Lagace Hotel, situated in Zouk Mosbeh, about 20 km north of Beirut, where he had just arrived after his interview with Canadian diplomats, when agents of the Military Intelligence arrested him without providing a warrant nor giving any reason for the arrest.

On 7 October 2016, Al Dolaee was subsequently sentenced to one year of imprisonment by the Military Court for allegedly “joining a terrorist group”, on the basis of information provided by Iraq. As the Lebanese authorities had received an extradition request from Iraq against him, instead of being released at the end of his prison sentence, Al Dolaee was transferred to the Adlieh Police Station at the Palace of Justice in Beirut, where he is held up until now, pending final decision on his case.    

In December 2016, the Public Prosecutor of the Cassation Court stated that the legal conditions for Al Dolaee’s extradition were not met, but according to the Lebanese Penal Code, final decision on extradition matters shall be taken by the Ministry of Justice. Al Dolaee was recently informed that, notwithstanding the view of the Public Prosecutor of the Cassation Court, a decree accepting his extradition was being prepared by the Ministry of Justice.

Accepting Iraq’s extradition request would have extreme consequences, as it is a systematic practice that individuals suspected by the Iraqi authorities of “terrorism” are violently arrested and detained incommunicado, while they are interrogated under torture to extract confessions. These confessions are subsequently used as the sole source of evidence against them in unfair trials before the Central Criminal Court, which routinely sentences convicts to death. “The Lebanese authorities must prevent this from happening to Al Dolaee,” comments Inès Osman, Regional Legal Officer responsible for Lebanon at Alkarama. “Instead, the Lebanese authorities have a legal obligation to respect the Convention against Torture (UNCAT) that Lebanon ratified in 2000, which explicitly prohibits to extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

For more information or an interview, please contact media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).