Analysis & Features


Numerous studies have provided in-depth analysis on Decree No. 66 of 2012, which created two zoning areas within Damascus Governorate, as well as Law No. 10 of 2018, which allows for the creation of one or more zoning areas within the general zoning plans of administrative units. However, there has been less interest in Law No. 23 of 2015, which concerns the implementation of zoning and urbanisation, despite the legislation being no less important regarding the confiscation and expropriation of private properties under the pretext of zoning.


In contrast to expropriation and private confiscation,which were legislated by the Syrian constitution to confiscate private property, the Syrian Penal Code considers any other forms of seizure targeting privately owned real estate to be extortion. Property extortion, according to Syrian law, is the seizure of properties without the owner’s consent, or seizure without any legal basis for ownership or any other legitimate reason. 


The Syrian constitution considers private property to be inviolable. However, there are two ways permitted to compel property owners to forfeit their property: expropriation, and what is called “private confiscation”. The latest constitution, adopted in 2012, gives certain parties the right to remove property through these two means, in accordance with specific rules and measures.


The past several years have seen Syrian regime forces recapture pocket after pocket of former opposition-held territory, usually by besieging and bombing those areas in an all-out blitzkrieg — an intense military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory — to force rebels to surrender.  Afterwards, most residents are displaced, leaving behind vast city blocks of homes and businesses damaged by the fighting. Some areas are little more than rubble. ِAnd now, how is the Syrian government ensuring that those bussed out from former rebel-held districts don’t return?


The Syrian constitution considers private property to be a right and that it cannot be confiscated except through an expropriation law that derives its legitimacy from the concept of "the public benefit." But who determines public benefit? And what happens when properties are expropriated, and public benefit is not achieved?