Dr Vasja Badalič1
1Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, almost one million Syrian refugees found shelter in Lebanon. During the first three years of the conflict, Lebanon kept the border open for Syrian asylum seekers, but when their number reached unsustainable levels, the Lebanese authorities gradually embraced a “closed door” policy. In October 2014, the Lebanese authorities approved a new policy on Syrian refugees with the objective of reducing the number of Syrians in Lebanon by limiting cross border movements from Syria and by “encouraging” Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return to their homeland.
This paper focuses on the “closed door” policy in order to examine the practices used by Lebanon to stop, or at least limit, the massive influx of Syrians, and thus prevent them from exercising their right to seek and enjoy asylum in Lebanon. The central part of the paper consists of two sections. The first section examines how Lebanon violated the principle of non-refoulement by employing a range of illegal practices (e.g. border closures, the use of selective criteria for determining which groups of Syrians were not allowed to cross the borders). The second section of the article examines how Lebanon resorted to practices that created circumstances for constructive refoulement of Syrian asylum seekers and refugees (e.g. shutting down the sole authority responsible for processing asylum claims, stripping Syrian refugees of their protection status, and preventing Syrian refugees from obtaining/retaining residency permits).
Vasja Badalič is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia. His primary fields of research are contemporary imperialism (e.g. the impact of the “war on terror” on the civilian population in Afghanistan and Pakistan) and migration (e.g. EU’s migration policy on its external borders). He combines theory with extensive field-work, frequently visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of three single-authored monographs, including The Terror of ‘Enduring Freedom’: War in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Krtina Publishing house, Ljubljana 2013 (in Slovenian only).