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Portugal’s President Approves Revised Nationality Law for Sephardic Jews

Constitutional Approval of Changes to Nationality Law

The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has officially promulgated the Nationality Law, which includes amended rules for granting nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews. This decision follows the Constitutional Court’s (TC) ruling, which found the changes to be constitutional. The court affirmed that the revised rules did not infringe on the rights of applicants or compromise human dignity.

Context of the Law’s Revision

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa had previously submitted the parliament’s decree on this matter to the TC, voicing concerns that the modifications could negatively impact Israeli hostages in Gaza who have pending Portuguese nationality requests. The TC, however, determined that the changes did not constitute a restriction of rights or breach the principle of protection of trust under the Rule of Law.

Details of the Ruling and Its Impact

According to the TC’s ruling, the transitional regime’s rules were found constitutional under the understanding that they neither violate the legitimate expectations of nationality applicants nor directly endanger the lives of the recipients. This clarification was noted in the ruling statement and echoed in a note published on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic.

Legislative Process and Voting Outcome

The amendments to the nationality law were passed in a final vote by the Assembly of the Republic on January 5. The voting saw majority support from deputies of PS, IL, BE, PAN, and Livre, with abstentions from PSD and three deputies from PS, and opposition from Chega and PCP.

Revised Criteria for Nationality by Naturalization

The revised law stipulates that the attribution of nationality by naturalization under Article 6 is now contingent on final approval by an evaluation committee. This committee will be appointed by the government member responsible for justice and will include representatives from relevant services, researchers or teachers, and representatives of Jewish communities.

Conclusion: A Balanced Approach to Nationality Law

The promulgation of the revised Nationality Law for Sephardic Jews in Portugal represents a balanced approach to addressing the historical context of these descendants while ensuring the protection of legal rights and human dignity. As the law comes into effect, it symbolizes Portugal’s commitment to justice and inclusivity, reflecting a careful consideration of both its historical legacy and contemporary legal principles.


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