Damascus scraps controversial property legislation following international pressure

Syrian jurists dispute reports that Law 10, a controversial piece of property legislation, has been revoked. The legislation enabled Syrian authorities to confiscate property without due process or compensation if ownership of properties in redevelopment zones were not proven within a set timeframe. The law adversely affected displaced citizens and those based abroad.

On October 18 the Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Jan Egeland, stated that Russia had confirmed that Damascus had scrapped the “very concerning” legislation. The Syrian regime has neither confirmed nor denied the claims.

According to the President of the Free Syrian Lawyers’ Association, Ghazouan Kronfol, the apparent move to withdrawal Law 10 was due to sustained pressure by legal organisations, UN agencies and European governments, primarily Germany, where around 600,000 Syrians are located. The suspension of Law 10 increases the likelihood of Syrians returning to Syria following an eventual cessation of hostilities in the country.

However, as two jurists told SY24, the legislation is merely ‘frozen’ – technically it can only be nullified if a new law is issued by Parliament or the President.

The head of the Free Syrian Law Commission, Judge Khalid Shihab al-Din, is sceptical about the news surrounding the revocation of law 10. “As they did with reconciliation agreements, the Regime is saying one thing but doing another.”

“It is easy to say that we “withdrew” Law No. 10, while a project like Marotta Basile is being implemented on the ground.” He added. “They started implementing the Marotta Basile project in Damascus in Mezzeh, Jobar, Qaboun and Kafr Sousseh.”

However, Mohammad Kazem Hendawi, Head of Asylum and Immigration to Europe in the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), disputes these claims, affirming that “We have information and testimonies that Law No. 10 is no longer in force.”

Politically, Nasr al-Hariri, head of Syrian Negotiation Commission, downplayed the significance of news surrounding Law 10. Speaking at a press conference in Riyadh on October 18, al-Hariri stated ‘The revocation of Law No. 10 means nothing, it doesn’t eliminate the concerns of Syrians about their security.”