Custodian of Enemy Property

The Custodian of Enemy Property is an institution that handles property claims created by war. In wartime, civilian property may be left behind or taken by the occupying state. In ancient times, such property was considered war loot, and the legal right of the winner. In the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 147, such action is defined as war crime: "Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."

Custodian of Enemy Property Laws

Bangladesh: The Enemy Property Act was established to manage property of non-Muslims taken while it was part of Pakistan (1948–1971) or during its independence war (1971).

India: The Custodian for Enemy Property for India was established to manage Pakistani property taken in the Second Kashmir War (1965).

Jordan: The Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property was established to handle property taken from Jews in the West Bank taken in the Israeli War of Independence (1948). In 1967 this function was disbanded (see below).

Israel: The Absentees' Property Laws were established to handle the property taken from Palestinian refugees (including refugees who later became citizens of Israel, or "present absentees") of the Israeli War of Independence (1948) under the office of the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property. During the Six-Day War (1967), along with previously Palestinian properties, Israel took control of the Jewish property held by the Jordanian Custodian for Enemy Property and put it under the control of their own Custodian of Absentee Property. Most of this property remains under the Custodian, while some (as in the Sheikh Jarrah case) has been granted to Jews contesting ownership, after claiming it in court.

United States: Alien Property Custodian was an office within the United States federal government during World War I and again during World War II.


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