JUST Act 447 surrounded by misunderstandings: US amb to Poland

In an interview with Polish Radio, US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher explained that the controversies caused by the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act 447 of 2017 stem from misinterpretation of the law.

“The JUST Act 447 on the Jewish property restitution in the post-WWII European countries is only to serve the preparation of a one-off report on the matter,” said the ambassador, adding that “the report is only to inform [the US Department of State - ed.] about what countries have done with regards to property restitution.”

“[The act] will not entail any further actions. The act dictates nothing,” ensured Ms Mosbacher, adding that the act will be legislatively complete by Autumn 2019.

The act’s legislative path was concluded with US president Donald Trump’s signature put on the bill in May 2018. As a consequence, the US secretary of state is obliged to present an annual report about countries’ fulfillment of the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference’s provisions.

The JUST Act does not envisage any sanctions on the countries who signed the declaration of the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference and failed, or are failing, to deliver its provisions. Thus, the act has a purely symbolic and declarative character.

The bill’s text may be found on the US Congress website and reads as follows: “This bill requires the Department of State to report to Congress assessing the national laws and enforceable policies of covered countries regarding the identification and return of, or restitution for, assets wrongfully seized or transferred during the Holocaust era, including: the return to the rightful owner of wrongfully seized or transferred property, including religious or communal property, or the provision of comparable substitute property or the payment of equitable compensation; the restitution of heirless property to assist needy Holocaust survivors; and progress on the resolution of claims for U.S.-citizen Holocaust survivors and family members.

‘Covered countries’ are participants in the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference that are determined by the State Department, in consultation with expert nongovernmental organizations, to be countries of particular concern relative to the restitution of Holocaust-era assets.”