PARIS – Paris Francophone Institute For Freedoms criticized a new law allowing the Syrian government to confiscate houses under reconstruction plans that could wipe out the aspirations of displaced people fleeing the scourge of war in the country to return, especially opponents of the government.
“The Syrian law number 10 made Syrian refugees vulnerable to being permanently exiled if they lost their property because the law undermined the motivation to return one day, ” said the institute in a press statement.
The institute showed its concern that the Syrian regime might use the law to demolish the strongholds of former opposition fighters, which were restored by the government to be replaced by new property owned by government supporters.
It also stressed the danger of the law on the path of six million Syrians who were displaced within the country while 5.5 million refugees are living outside Syria.
The law initially gave landlords 30 days to prove their ownership or to lose their rights. The government extended the period to a year earlier this month to calm refugee concerns that displaced people could lose their homes.
Although the law provides that relatives in Syria have the right to claim ownership, the Paris Francophone Institute for Freedoms said that a power of attorney must be exercised so that the authorities can know which relative is the chosen legal representative and that any person claiming ownership must have a security permit Which could lead to the denial of Syrian rights to Syrians who fled former strongholds of the opposition.
It added that the Syrian regime has a long tradition in the arbitrary confiscation to serve its economic and security interests, but that the unfair confiscation of land was one of the causes of the popular revolution that erupted in Syria since 2011.
“Who will dare to claim property in an area under the control of the opposition and turned to a rubble by a regime considers its inhabitants to be Sunni terrorists? Even if they dare, they will not get permission if the regime wants the land,” it questioned.
Paris Francophone Institute For Freedoms stressed that the problem is not in the law itself as it is in how and where it will be implemented. If you live in an opposition area that has been bombed, you probably will not get a security permission, so your right to property has ended automatically..
The institute concluded that the law was a serious obstacle to a lasting political outlet to the Syrian conflict because it allowed the looting of refugee property and represented a new phase in the brutal policy of displacing entire sectors of the Syrian people, which the Damascus regime has been implementing for several years..
The Norwegian Refugee Council estimates that about half of Syria’s 22 million pre-war population lived in urban areas and that about a third lived in slums.