المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Following popular discontent and media pressure by SOHR and other organizations | “Self-Administration” suspends the ‘Protection and Management of Absentees’ Properties Act’ and decides to redraft it

The Self-Administration of the northern and eastern regions of Syria has issued a new resolution on Act No. 7, which relates to the “Protection and Management of Absentees’ Properties Act” in the regions of northern and eastern Syria, following the repercussions of its decision which has triggered popular rejection and widespread resentment of a large segment of the population.

The Self-Administration has decided to suspend the implementation of the Act via a statement and redraft it to keep pace with “the rights and aspirations of the people of the region”, according to an official statement, of which SOHR has obtained a copy. The statement reads:

Due to the impact of the ‘Protection and Management of Absentees’ Properties Act’ issued by the General Council of the Self-Administration of northern and eastern Syria in its session (30) on August 5, 2020, and following the media furore, misunderstanding and concerns by human rights and legal communities, civil society organizations, specialized groups, general population, and all the expatriates from north-eastern Syria; and the implications that may occur as a result of the application of this law resulting from its misunderstanding and the differences in the interpretation of its articles; and since the Self-Administration of north-eastern Syria, particularly the General Council, represents the will of the people and in response to the request of the people  of northern and eastern Syria at home and abroad, the following has been decided:

1- Suspension of the implementation of law No. (7) of 2020, ‘Protection and Management of Absentees’ Properties Act’

2- The revision of and redrafting of the act taking into consideration and  the aspirations and rights of the people of this region.

The Syrian Observatory continues monitoring and tracking, with deep concern, the repercussions of the ‘Protection and Management of Absentees’ Properties Act’ infringes the rights of Syrians’ issued by the Autonomous Administration in northern and eastern Syria.

We, at the Syrian Observatory, express our rejection of this law, as it violates all civil and criminal laws concerning the preservation of humans rights to own and use the property belonging to them , especially since the Autonomous Administration claims that the aim of this law is to protect the properties which belong to people who live abroad and have no relatives in Syria.

The law constitutes a flagrant violation to the legislations related to inheritance, since it identifies absentee as “every person with Syrian nationality or of those denied or deprived of citizenship, who lives outside Syria and has no first-degree or second-degree relatives in Syria”. When the real owner dies, the rightful heirs in or outside Syria will face major obstacles in terms of getting their rights, according to the letters of the recently-issued law.

The issuance of this law by the Autonomous Administration to control private properties looks like what is happening in countries whose authorities illegally take over private properties or nationalize them under the pretext of appropriation in the public interest. Such actions violate international laws, social, religious and positive legalizations which organise the mechanism of appropriation and the rights to sell and purchase properties.

According to the recent law, a special commission of 11 officials will be formed to manage the properties of the absentees with a task of protecting these properties from being attacked or seized. However, the law has stated no terms concerning the protection of these properties from the commission itself and its possible abuses, which may lead to loss of these properties, underestimation of their value or damage they may face.

SOHR believes that granting this commission the authority to rent out and utilise private properties or to put them in the services of the “society development”, deprives the real owners from revenues which they can obtain, should they themselves decide to rent out or sells their own properties without having to be present in Syria. The law’s terms show the Autonomous Administration’s clear intention to take over financial revenues which duly belong individuals owning buildings, land and real estates; this also means that the law aims to seize and confiscate private properties not protect as it claims.

It is not the first attempt by the Autonomous Administration to take over private properties, as the “Legislative Council” in Al-Jazeera region issued a similar law in late 2015, which faced severe criticisms of attempting to seize the absentees’ properties illegally.

We, at the Syrian Observatory, express our opposition to and rejection of any law or decree being drafted with the purpose of changing the state of a private or individual property in order to seize them or take over potential revenues that may come through leasing or selling . We also call upon the Autonomous Administration to withdraw or annul such laws and respect the ownership and private property rights. What the Autonomous Admiration is doing currently does not differ much from what the regime authorities are doing in terms of seizing private properties if their rightful owners are absentees.

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