The Assad regime has passed Law No.10 to allow itself to seize private property, displace residents, and discourage refugees from returning, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published Tuesday.
The New York-based group said that Law 10 empowers authorities to confiscate property without compensating the owners or giving them an opportunity to appeal. The law, which the Assad regime is promoting as an urban planning measure, will create a major obstacle to returning home for displaced residents.
“Law 10 is a worrisome addition to the Syrian government’s arsenal of ‘urban planning laws’ that it has used to confiscate property without due process or compensation,” said HRW’s deputy Middle East director Lama Fakih.
“Countries and donors supporting reconstruction in Syria have a responsibility to consider the obstacles this law poses to returning for millions of displaced Syrians,” she said.
HRW added that the new law also provides a formal framework for ownership of the land to revert to the Syrian government, which is empowered to award reconstruction and development contracts to corporations or investors and pay them with shares in the zone.
The Syrian Coalition said that the reconstruction process must take place only after the return of the displaced people and the reaching of a comprehensive political transition. The remarks were made during a workshop held in cooperation with the Day After organization.
The Coalition warned that the new law is aimed at consolidating the mass forced displacement and demographic change operations. In a letter sent to leaders of the friendly countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, the Coalition highlighted the grave implications of the law as it stressed that it serves Iran’s plans to consolidate its influence in Syria.
Displaced residents, particularly those from areas considered to be anti-government, will be more vulnerable to property seizure under Law No. 10, HRW warned. According to the UN Refugee Agency, over 11 million Syrians have been displaced either internally or to host countries since the start of the Syrian conflict. Many will not be able to return to their properties to make a claim themselves, and the 30-day window for sending a relative or an agent will be insurmountable for many. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)