What is the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017?
- The JUST Act is an American law that requires the U.S. Department of State to provide a one-time report to Congress by November 2019.
- The one-time report will assess the national laws and policies of countries that endorsed the Terezin Declaration from the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference regarding the identification, return of, or restitution for assets wrongfully seized or transferred during the Holocaust era.
- The JUST Act is a tool to inform efforts to measure the progress of countries in meeting their Terezin Declaration commitments.
- Once submitted, the JUST Act report will become a public document, available for anyone to reference.
What is the Terezin Declaration?
- The Terezin Declaration refers to Holocaust survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution.
- It calls for countries who endorsed it to take action regarding the identification, return of, or restitution for assets wrongfully seized during the Holocaust era; including:
- The return or restitution of wrongfully seized property, including religious or communal property;
- The restitution of heirless property to assist needy Holocaust survivors; and
- Progress on the resolution of claims for Holocaust survivors and family members.
- The Terezin Declaration also calls on countries to resolve issues of Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art; return Judaica and Cultural Property; provide access to archival documents; promote Holocaust education, research, remembrance and the protection of important Holocaust memorial sites; and provide for the welfare of remaining Holocaust survivors.
- Poland and the United States were two of the 46 countries that endorsed the Terezin Declaration during the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference.
Answers to Common Misunderstandings:
- The United States concerns about restitution are related to fairness and equality for all victims, regardless of nationality, religion, or ethnic background.
- The JUST Act does not accuse Poland of complicity for Nazi crimes in World War II. The United States acknowledges that Poland was a victim of Nazi aggression.
- The JUST Act does not target or single out any one country. Poland is one of 46 countries covered in the JUST Act.
- The JUST Act does not require any country to pay money to individuals, foreign governments or international organizations to resolve Holocaust-era property restitution issues, including heirless property. The intent of the U.S. Congress with respect to this Act is to provide information so that these issues can be resolved.
- The JUST Act does not contain any sanctions authority.
- The overwhelming majority of Holocaust-era claims by U.S. citizens were not covered by the 1960 indemnity agreement. In July 1960, the United States signed an agreement with Poland in which the Polish government assumed responsibility to pay for the claims of U.S. citizens who were U.S. citizens at the time their property in Poland was nationalized by the then Communist government.
- Polish citizens whose property was seized during the Holocaust era, and who later immigrated to the United States and became U.S. citizens, or whose descendants became U.S. citizens, are not covered by the 1960 agreement.