Portugal has started granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted five centuries ago.

The Justice Ministry said Tuesday that on Oct. 2 it approved first three of more than 200 applications it has received so far. The other applications are still being processed following a law that began in March.

Seeking to make amends for past wrongdoing, both Portugal and Spain adopted laws this year allowing citizenship for descendants of Sephardic Jews — the term commonly used for those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula — persecuted during the Inquisition.

Alfonso Paredes Henriquez, a Panama-based real estate developer, said he and his brother were among the successful applicants. They are entitled to a passport and the right to work and live in the 28-nation European Union.