Alterations to Nationality Law sent to Constitutional Court “because of hostages in Gaza”

President fears retroactive effect “could aggravate situation of Israeli hostages with pending applications”

Alterations to the Nationality Law – hailed as a form of ‘Sephardic Jew amnesty’ but later suspected to have been open to abuse – have suffered a new hiccup: president Marcelo was to have ‘rubber stamped’ the law, bringing it closer to taking effect, but he now believes the retroactive effects of one of the amendments could aggravate the situation of hostages in Gaza.

As a result, Portugal’s head of State has submitted the amendment in question (Amendment 6) to the Constitutional Court.

In a note published on the official website of the Presidency, Marcelo Rebelo explains “the amendment to the Nationality Law, with effects applicable to processes that are still underway, could aggravate the situation of Israeli hostages in Gaza who have pending applications for Portuguese nationality”.

According to the President of the Republic, this effect “could be considered an offence against the principles of trust and the dignity of the human person, as well as, objectively, against the right to life, since a Portuguese-Israeli hostage has already been released on the basis of her Portuguese nationality”.

Thus he has submitted the decree to “a preventive review of its constitutionality by the Constitutional Court, soley and specifically because of Article 6”.

The changes to the nationality law were approved in the Assembly of the Republic in a final overall vote on January 5 – with a majority of PS, IL, BE, PAN and Livre deputies voting in favour, PSD and three PS deputies abstaining and Chega and PCP voting against – months after months after moves began to try and rein the legislation back.

Article 6 of the amended law establishes that “certification of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin” can only apply to descendants of Sephardic Jews who, beyond demonstrating Portuguese origins, “have resided legally in Portuguese territory for a period of at least three years, consecutive or interpolated”. This one clause takes the possibility of applying for residency out of the scope of most descendants of Sephardic Jews. ND

Source material: Lusa/ Official site of the Presidency of the Republic