WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump signed into law a bill meant to hold accountable European countries that have been slow to return stolen assets to victims of the Holocaust.
The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act, or the JUST Act, passed the Senate in December and the House of Representatives late last month.
The law requires the State Department to issue reports on the progress of restitution efforts by 47 countries that in 2009 pledged to recover or compensate “Holocaust-related confiscations made during the Holocaust era between 1933 and 1945.”
All of those countries are signatories of the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues, a 2009 document that committed nations to pay restitution before the last generation of Holocaust survivors passes away. The JUST Act is an attempt to apply outside pressure on the signatories to fulfill their commitments.
The bill was originally drafted by Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in the Senate, and Joseph Crowley (D-New York) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) in the House.
“This is a powerful statement of America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Holocaust survivors in their quest for justice,” said Gideon Taylor, chair of operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization, an Israeli NGO which strongly supported the legislation. “We thank President Trump for supporting the bill, as well as the US Congress for passing it unanimously. We extend our utmost gratitude to Senators Baldwin and Rubio and Representatives Crowley and Smith, for their heartfelt leadership on this issue.”