Restitution or compensation? What to choose when addressing Gaddafi's legacy of expropriated dwellings
Paper short abstract:
This paper assesses whether restitution or compensation should be the preferred remedy when addressing cases wherein dwellings were taken from their original owners and assigned to new ones as a result of Gaddafi regime socialist laws.
Paper long abstract:
This paper assesses whether restitution or compensation should be the preferred remedy when addressing the legacy of Libya's infamous Law No. 4. Gaddafi's regime introduced this law in 1978 to ban owning more than one dwelling, and entitle those in need, notably tenants, to own dwellings owned in excess of this limit. As a result, tens of thousands of those deemed in need of housing owned expropriated dwellings. Many of them have lived there since; thus, the dwellings have become their homes. Even when in 2006 the regime formed a committee to address the grievances of former owners, the remedies offered consisted mainly of compensation; hence, occupants' stay in the expropriated dwellings continued uninterruptedly. The situation seems to have changed in the aftermath of the 2011 February uprising that toppled Gaddafi's regime. Draft laws submitted to address the legacy of Law 4 propose restitution as the preferred remedy. In doing so, these drafts prioritize the former owners' right to property over the right to home that the occupants apparently enjoy. I will assess whether this is the right approach. The assessment will be based on an analysis of primary sources, e.g., draft laws, archive of the compensation committee, and interviews with former owners, occupants, and key persons such as the heads of the compensation committee, authority for state property and authority for real property registration.
Urban property disputes in fragile and transitional settings in Africa