The new regulation of the Portuguese Nationality Law - that since 2015 allows the acquisition of citizenship by Jews of Portuguese Sephardic origins - requires a prolonged and lasting connection of the applicant to Portugal, which can be proven through the many trips he has made to the country during his life or through properties or companies that he has inherited from a deceased relative.
According to the new regulation, the certifying communities will be as follows:
- Jewish community of Belmonte.
- Jewish community of Algarve.
- Hehaber Israeli Youth Association.
- Jewish community of Lisbon.
- Jewish community of Oporto.
The Jewish Community of Oporto announced on March 13 (in Portugal) and April 4 (in Israel) that it would withdraw from the certification process.
The Jewish Community of Lisbon assures that it will continue to certify the descendants of Sephardic Jews.
Communiqué of the Jewish Community of Lisbon on the Nationality Law
Lisbon, June 1st, 2022
The Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa – CIL (Lisbon Jewish Community), confronted by the lack of response from the Portuguese government and the civil registry institute, since our request for clarification dating the April 1 st, 2022, following a careful appreciation of the item nº 7 article 6º of the Law of Nationality concluded by a team of experts on Constitutional Law, and having suspended the assurance of analysis of every application that entered after the issuing of the new regulation, considers that:
1) CIL holds the right to keep analysing applications and, after due consideration, issuing certificates of Sephardic origin.
2) Bearing in mind the specifics of the naturalization process for Sephardic descendants, which depends on a mandatory certificate issued by a Jewish Community settled in Portugal, the starting date of the said naturalization process has to be the day the requirement reaches CIL, receiving the pending status from then onwards.
3) The Portuguese civil registry institute (IRN) was questioned about this matter by CIL and having obtained no clarification whatsoever CIL considers that the previous statement is also the interpretation of the IRN.
4) Therefore, it is CIL’s acknowledgement that every application that enters our community until the end of the August 31st, 2022, will be granted the status of pending process and, consequently, will have to be appreciated.
5) However, CIL has strong evidence, based on legal opinions, that the new regulations introduced in subparagraph d) of nº3 of article 24º - of the Regulation of Portuguese Nationality, are unconstitutional and, consequently, even non-applicable, or, if applicated, can be subject to reversal by Court.
6) CIL does not give up on any mechanisms in its reach on the effort that the new norms, found to be unconstitutional, be annulled from the regulation. Having even asked for an audience for three different times with the Minister of Justice, without receiving even the acknowledgement of our requests. That being said, CIL is considering resorting to legal means.
7) Even though CIL does not have the competence to resort to court, if the Portuguese nationality concession is denied due to the incapability of meeting the new set of requirements, which we consider unconstitutional, CIL does acknowledge that the applicants have every right and legitimacy to resort to court on this matter.
The Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa has maintained, over the course of the last seven years, a strong and full compliance of the Law, fulfilling all legal and procedural requirements. We have gathered evidence, during this period, that it is possible to demonstrate the tradition of Sephardic origin in a proven and well documented way. Even though CIL was, sometimes, accused of soliciting documents and information too extensively, we maintain a clear conscience, considering that every request had the intention to defend our credibility and abide by the norms and spirit of the Law of Historical Reparation, along with fulfilling a mission of public interest and service.
Therefore, we will continue to proceed, convinced of the linearity, appropriateness, and professionalism of all our procedures, which are compliant with the Law.
Without any further reasons keeping us from analysing the applications we have already received, and the ones we may receive in future, we will keep fulfilling our job in the knowledge that difficulties may arise, for us and for the applicants who may be forced to use legal means if the said unconstitutional norms won't be annulled in due time.
Communiqué of the Jewish Community of Oporto to Israel
Oporto, April 4, 2022
The Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto has decided that it is no longer interested in collaborating with the Portuguese State in certifying Sephardic Jews and recalls the proposal it made in 2013/2014 to the PSD/CDS government to the effect that an international commission should be set up.
People within the Portuguese State apparatus used journalists, influencers, anonymous accusers and anonymous sources to end the Sephardic law. They destroyed the reputation of that law and the secular and religious leaders of the Jewish Community of Oporto, the strongest in Portugal and the only one that exclusively certified Jews.
In the 21st century, in two hundred countries in the world, no Jewish community has been so unjustly and fiercely treated, an unprecedented union of mainstreams, which destroyed the respectability of the organisation, derided Jewish families who have lived for a century in Oporto, lending credibility to slanderers. A process of lashon hara.
Such denunciations (conveniently made use of by the State, as the Inquisition had done) were allegedly written by individuals who were entenced by the courts, one for defamation and the other (a well known racist) for corruption. A third slanderer, who has been a newspapers’ “anonymous source”, was expelled ten years ago from the community.
The anonymous denunciations soon will be put on display at the Jewish Museum and they will lead to the pursuit of their authors and disseminators through the courts. The religious and secular leaders of the Jewish Community of Oporto were accused to be involved in a “scheme to traffic Portuguese nationality" through false certificates of Sephardism, including for Patrick Drahi, in exchange for donations. They have been subjected to searches on account of contacts they never had with registry offices and of embezzlements that are technically impossible to carry out in the organisation.
Even though Drahi had been certified (and rightly so) by the Jewish Community of Lisbon, neither the Lisbon community nor its leaders suffered searches and detentions, because that would risk talk of antisemitism, of no interest to the organisers of this process, who needed to focus all repressive action on the Jewish Community of Oporto and some of its leaders. It was thus in the USSR. Communities were attacked one by one, never at the same time.
The Jewish Community of Oporto maintains that it has worked in full transparency and maintained rigorous and honest standards during the mandate it was given throughout its role in the Sephardic certification process.
The Community will continue to evolve in all its statutory aims, following the trajectory that in the space of a single decade has made it one of the most relevant Jewish organisations in the world in respect of religion, culture, philanthropy and fighting antisemitism.