MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) - The practice of imposing curfews on Syrian refugees, adopted by some 45 Lebanese municipalities, contributes to an atmosphere of bias and retaliatory action against Syrians and must be stopped, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Friday in a press release.
"The Lebanese government should instruct municipalities to stop imposing the curfews and to protect Syrians in Lebanon from retaliatory measures. The national government should not cede its responsibilities concerning the refugees to municipalities that are not well-equipped or responsible for meeting the challenges of the increasing number of refugees in the country," the statement reads.
The human rights body said the curfews are typically announced with street banners, outlining the time for "foreigners", which is widely understood to mean Syrians, to abstain from being outside or gathering in large groups. On some occasions, the curfew regime has also reportedly been maintained by local vigilante groups.
"The authorities have presented no evidence that curfews for Syrian refugees are necessary for public order or security in Lebanon. These curfews are just contributing to an increasingly hostile environment for Syrian refugees in the country," Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at the HRW, said as quoted in the press release.
The organization also underscored that the right to freedom of movement for those legally present in the country is fundamental and is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by Beirut. HRW, however, noted that restriction of rights is possible, but must not be based on a discriminatory basis, not even during emergencies.
According to UN estimates, Lebanon currently hosts over 1.1 million "persons of concern", most of them registered refugees from neighboring Syria, fleeing from the civil war. During a counter-terrorism raid last week in a Syrian refugee camp near the bordering city of Arsal, around 150 tents accommodating Syrians were set on fire. Anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon has increased following August's clashes between Lebanon and Syrian extremists, including the Islamic State group, near Arsal, which led to the execution of three Lebanese servicemen.