Court name: Court of Appeals of Gipuzkoa
State: Spain
Date of decision:

A 7-year-old child arrived in Spain irregularly by boat in April 2018. She was born in Morocco to a Cameroonian mother while they were on a journey to Europe, and due to the circumstances the child’s birth was not registered. Her mother contacted the Cameroonian and Moroccan embassies in Spain, but she never succeeded in registering her birth nor recognising her Cameroonian nor Moroccan nationality. The child was thus stateless, as declared in the first instance judgment and confirmed on appeal. The Provincial Court of Guipúzcoa held that the mother had made a genuine effort to remove all bureaucratic obstacles to have the child’s Cameroonian nationality recognised. The Court held that the safeguard established in the Spanish Civil Code to prevent statelessness of children born in Spain should be applied broadly and by analogy, as this is the only interpretation in compliance with international treaties to which Spain is a party and with the principle of the best interests of the child. Therefore it found that there was a violation of the child's fundamental rights and declared that the child held Spanish nationality and agreed to order the Central Civil Registry to register the birth of the child. 

Court name: The High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division Administrative Court
Date of decision:

Two of the applicants, E3 and N3, were deprived of their British citizenship by the defendant, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Following the determination of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (“SIAC”) in similar cases, the defendant withdrew her deprivation decisions against the applicants, whose citizenship was reinstated. 

During the period of deprivation, the third applicant, ZA, who is the daughter of one of the applicants, was born. The applicants claimed that ZA should be automatically entitled to British citizenship. The court held that the child of a British citizen born during a period in which her father had been deprived of his citizenship (which was later reinstated), was not automatically British at birth, as the decision to reinstate the father’s citizenship did not have retroactive effect.  

Court name: Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)
Date of decision:

This appeal to the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber concerns the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s (hereinafter SSHD) decision to deprive the appellant of his British citizenship. The Upper Tribunal addressed the issue of whether Article 8(1) of the ECHR was engaged and whether the SSDH discretionary decision under section 40(2) or (3) to deprive the individual of his or her British citizenship was exercised correctly. The grounds for judicial review is that the delay in acting on the appellant’s fraud reduces the public interest in deprivation and is a disproportionate interference with Article 8 ECHR.

Court name: Supreme Court
State: Ireland
Date of decision:

This appeal arose from decisions of first and second respondents to refuse the appellant’s application for an Irish passport on the basis that he is not an Irish citizen. The appellant’s passport application was on grounds of automatic birth right citizenship derived through the residence of his father, an Afghan national, who gave false information on his initial refugee application in the State. The Court of Appeal had decided in favour of the Minister, holding that a declaration of refugee status which is revoked on the basis that the applicant had provided false and misleading information leads to the declaration being void ab initio.

The Supreme Court allowing the appeal, held that while a refugee declaration is ‘‘in force’’ and until such time as it is revoked, it must be regarded as being valid. This was based on the fact that the Minister for Justice has a discretion as to whether or not to revoke and is only required to do so when it is considered appropriate. This discretion would have enabled the Minister for Justice in an appropriate case to consider the effect of a decision to revoke on those who obtained derivative rights prior to revocation. The Court held that residence status conferred by the State on a parent based on false or misleading information could be included for the calculation of the period required to confer an entitlement of citizenship on the appellant.

Court name: Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date of decision:

The appellant, a child born to a Zimbabwean mother and Portuguese father, was not a recognised national of any country and consequently applied for limited leave to remain in the United Kingdom through paragraph 405 of the Immigration Rules. However, for paragraph 405 of the Immigration Rules to apply, individuals must also satisfy the conditions of paragraph 403, which include a requirement that individuals be inadmissible to any country other than the UK. The Court of Appeal affirmed the Upper Tribunal’s decision that JM was admissible to Zimbabwe and therefore did not qualify for limited leave to remain in the country under paragraph 405.

Court name: UK Supreme Court
Date of decision:

A Nigerian child was unable to apply British citizenship as she could not pay the full fee, fixed at £973 at the time. The UK Supreme Court found that setting high and unaffordable fees for registration as a British citizen is not unlawful, even though it acknowledged that for many young people the current level of fees is unaffordable and that the inability to acquire British citizenship may result in difficulties for young people. However, the Supreme Court found that the UK Parliament had empowered the Secretary of State to set such fees at a level exceeding the cost of processing a citizenship application and therefore setting such high fees was not unlawful.

Court name: Court of Justice of the European Union
State: Austria
Date of decision:

JY, an Estonian national, applied for Austrian nationality. As Austria operates a 'single nationality' approach, JY renounced her Estonian nationality after receiving an assurance that she would be granted Austrian nationality once proof of her renunciation was given. This assurance was subsequently revoked due to the applicant committing two road traffic offences, leaving her stateless. In its judgment, the CJEU confirmed that the situation falls within the scope of EU law, and that the authorities' decision to revoke an assurance to grant Austrian nationality was incompatible with the principle of proportionality considering the gravity of the offences committed. The Court noted that the concepts of ‘public policy’ and ‘public security’ must be interpreted strictly and clarified their meaning, concluding that it did not appear that JY represented a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society or a threat to public security in Austria. It also held that traffic offences, punishable by mere administrative fines, cannot be regarded as capable of demonstrating that the person is a threat to public policy and public security which may justify the permanent loss of their EU citizenship.

Court name: Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo)
State: Spain
Date of decision:

The applicant, who described himself as being Saharawi, claimed that he should not be granted statelessness status because he was entitled to Spanish nationality. Alternatively, he argued that he should be recognised as being stateless. The Supreme Court found that his entitlement to Spanish nationality could not be considered, given that it has never been requested before by the applicant. However, the court found that given that he could not be considered as Moroccan or Algerian under the law of these two countries, nor as covered by the exception foreseen in Article 1(2)(i) of the 1954 Convention, his statelessness status should be recognised.

Court name: Court of Appeal
Date of decision:

The applicant applied for British citizenship on the basis of s.4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 (which does not allow the grant of British citizenship when the applicant already has another nationality), relying on a letter from a Pakistani Consulate confirming that his Pakistani nationality was cancelled. The Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision, which had been in favour of the applicant, on the basis that (1) it failed to apply the principle that the person's nationality was to be determined by reference to the actual law of the state on the basis of expert evidence, not what agencies of the state might assert about that person's nationality; and (2) the lower court’s reading of Pakistani law was mistaken.

Court name: Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes
State: France
Date of decision:

The applicant is from Western Sahara and identifies as a Sahrawi, a territory occupied by Morocco. Having fled to France, he  argued that he should qualify as a stateless person even though his birth certificate indicates that he has Moroccan nationality. He argued that this matter should be referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. 

Court name: Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland
Date of decision:

The complainant, a Syrian Kurd with provisional refugee status in Switzerland, applied for recognition as stateless. Her application was rejected on the grounds that a) she was entitled to Syrian nationality and b) she was already protected by the Refugee Convention. On appeal, the court held that the complainant was entitled to apply for recognition as stateless notwithstanding her status as a refugee and that, since the complainant would have to travel to Syria to claim nationality there, she had adequate reasons for not claiming the nationality to which she had an entitlement and could be recognised as stateless. 

Court name: Human Rights Committee
Date of decision:

A child was born in the Netherlands was registered as having 'unknown' nationality and the authorities refused changing it to 'stateless' on the ground that the child had not proved that he had no nationality, as the burden of proof was on the child and not on the authorities. Without being recognised as stateless, the author could not acquire Dutch nationality. The Committee adopted the view that this requirement rendered the author of the complaint unable to effectively enjoy his right as a minor to acquire a nationality, in violation of the rights guaranteed under Article 24(3) in conjunction with Article 2(3) ICCPR.

Court name: Court of Justice of the European Union
State: Germany
Date of decision:

An Austrian national by birth transferred his residence to Germany and naturalised as a German national. The naturalisation in Germany had the effect, in accordance with Austrian law, of causing him to lose his Austrian nationality. The German authorities later withdrew the naturalisation with retroactive effect, on the grounds that the applicant had not disclosed that he was the subject of a criminal investigation in Austria on account of suspected serious fraud, and that he had thus obtained German nationality by deception. The Court held that it is not contrary to EU law for a Member State to withdraw nationality obtained by deception, even if it results in losing EU citizenship, so long as the decision observes the principle of proportionality. Observance of the principle of proportionality requires the person concerned to be afforded a reasonable period of time in order to try to recover the nationality of their Member State of origin.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: Latvia
Date of decision:

The applicant was previously a national of the former USSR, before becoming a “permanently resident non-citizen” of Latvia, where she moved at age 12. Her case is concerned with the deprivation her of pension entitlements in respect of 17 years’ employment due to discriminatory reasons regarding her lack of Latvian nationality. The Court ruled that there had been a violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 and Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: France
Date of decision:

Five applicants of dual nationality, convicted in 2007 of participating in a criminal association in a terrorist context, were stripped of their French nationality in October 2015 by Prime Minister decrees. The Court held that the decision to forfeit the applicants’ French nationality did not have a disproportionate impact on their private lives and therefore was not in violation of Article 8 of the Convention.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: Malta
Date of decision:

Maltese authorities denied Maltese nationality to a child on the basis that they were born out of wedlock to a Maltese father and a British mother. Domestic legislation only conferred nationality to children born out of wedlock if the mother was Maltese. The Court rejected the argument advanced by the Maltese Government that this case was justified on the basis that a mother is always certain, whereas a father is not. It concluded that no reasonable grounds were adduced to justify such a difference in the treatment of the applicant and found a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 ECHR.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: Latvia
Date of decision:

The appellant is a former USSR national, living in Latvia. The case is concerned with whether Latvia’s refusal of citizenship to a person who had criticised the Government, constituted a punitive measure in violation of that individual’s rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 and freedom of assembly and association under Article 11. The Court found no violation of articles 10 and 11 as the denial of citizenship did not affect the appellant’s relevant rights. Contrary, it highlighted that there is no “right to a nationality” under the Convention, and no provision of Latvian law indicates the appellant’s right to Latvian citizenship.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
Date of decision:

Two applications (joined before the Court) concerned the removal of and the refusal to exchange passports, leaving the applicants stateless and without identity documentation, after the relevant Russian authorities found their Russian citizenship to be granted erroneously. The Court held the withdrawal of identity documents, which affected the exercise of their rights and freedoms in their daily lives, was a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.

Court name: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione)
State: Italy
Date of decision:

The Ministry of Interior requested for the decision concerning the recognition of the respondent’s stateless status, be overturned. The case on appeal raised two points of principle: first, the burden of proof applicable to the determination of whether a person qualifies for stateless status, as defined in the 1954 Convention; and secondly, the consideration of stateless persons as a particular category of aliens comparable to beneficiaries of international protection. The Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal’s previous decision and ordered the Tribunal for a new assessment of the applicant’s status.

Court name: Supreme Court
State: Ireland
Date of decision:

The applicant brought an appeal challenging the constitutionality of s.19 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, which governs the procedure by which revocation of naturalisation is determined. The fact that the Minister initiated the revocation process, appointed the committee charged with conducting the inquiry and then reached the final decision, was unconstitutional according to the applicant, as it breached the right to fair procedures. The Court held that s.19 was unconstitutional because it did not provide the procedural safeguards required to meet the high threshold of natural justice applicable to a person facing such severe consequences, i.e. revocation of naturalisation.

Court name: Supreme Administrative Court
State: Ukraine
Date of decision:

The applicant was born in the Soviet Union on the territory of Russia. The facts as to where the applicant lived and when are disputed in the case. In 1999 he was issued a Ukrainian passport, but a court later established that the place and date of birth he indicated were not correct, and his passport was confiscated and destroyed. The authorities argued that the applicant ought to prove he never acquired Russian nationality or alternatively that he renounced his Russian nationality. 

Court name: Supreme Administrative Court
State: Poland
Date of decision:

The applicant is a Polish national, whose son was born in Belarus to a mother who is a national of Belarus. The applicant was originally not mentioned as a father on the birth certificate, but established his paternity through a court order in Poland, unfortunately missing the 12-months deadline since the birth of his son to be able to claim Polish nationality for his son. The Court comments on the applicability of Article 24 ICCPR, stating that it is not applicable since the child acquired Belarusian nationality, and implying that if the child would have been stateless Article 24 ICCPR may have resulted in an interpretation of the Polish law so as to remedy the child's statelessness. 

Court name: Supreme Administrative Court
State: Poland
Date of decision:

The judgment is an answer to a general legal question as to whether Polish law allows the incorporation of foreign birth certificates where parents are of the same sex. The question was prompted by the authorities' refusal to transcribe into Polish law the foreign birth certificate of a child born to two mothers, both of whom are Polish nationals. The applicant argued that since lack of a transcribed birth certificate inhibits her child's access to a Polish passport, it in practice leads to a situation that is identical to statelessness. 

Court name: Supreme Administrative Court
State: Poland
Date of decision:

The applicant was born in the US, and his birth certificate indicated a Polish national as the father, and an unknown surrogate mother as the mother. Polish authorities refused to confirm the applicant acquired Polish nationality at birth as a child of a Polish parent, because the birth certificate is against the Polish public order, in particular the prohibition of surrogacy. The courts ruled in favour of the applicant, stating that confirmation of his Polish nationality on the basis of the birth certificate does not amount to validation of surrogacy.

Court name: Administrative Court of Luxembourg
State: Luxembourg
Date of decision:

The applicant's naturalisation request was denied due to a criminal record, even though he has resided in Luxembourg for decades and is a stateless person. The Court rules that the principle of avoidance of statelessness does not prevent States from setting conditions on access to naturalisation even for stateless persons.