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: High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Date of decision:

The claimant, born in a refugee camp in Western Sahara, asserted he is a stateless person within the meaning of article 1(a) of the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (although he never made a formal statelessness application) and alleged that he was unlawfully detained under immigration powers, pending deportation. The Secretary of State attempted to obtain an emergency travel document for the claimant from various foreign authorities, yet delays were encountered. The claimant was detained throughout but it was held that the Secretary of State was acting with reasonable diligence, the decision to detain the claimant was not unlawful considering the circumstances and there was a reasonable prospect of removal during the period of detention. The claimant was a persistent absconder with multiple convictions, had been assessed as posing a high risk of harm to the public, and these factors weighed against him when assessing what was a reasonable period of detention.

Court name: Conseil d'État
State: France
Date of decision:

Article 25 of the French Civil Code provides that an individual may be stripped of their French nationality where, inter alia, it was acquired by naturalization and where the individual has been convicted of a crime that constituted an attack on the fundamental interests of France or an act of terrorism. Deprivation of French nationality is not allowed where it would render the individual stateless. The applicant was deprived of his French nationality, which he had acquired by naturalization, following a decision of the Paris Criminal Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris) convicting him for his participation in an association of criminals with a view to preparing an act of terrorism. That court found that he had joined a terrorist group and participated in training and armed operations of that group. The Council of State (Conseil d’État) upheld the decree of deprivation of nationality because the applicant held Algerian nationality since birth and could not be deprived of it since the Algerian code of nationality only authorises the deprivation of nationality for persons who have acquired it after birth. Therefore, the loss of French nationality would not render him stateless and was thus not illegal under French law. The Council of State also ruled on the proportionality of the decree with regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and found that, given the seriousness of the crimes committed by the applicant, the challenged decree did not disproportionately infringe the right to respect for his private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the ECHR.

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

This application for judicial review concerns the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s decision to refuse the applicant’s application for leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a stateless person on the basis that she could have re-entered the Kuwait lawfully through a travel document she had been provided with by the Kuwaiti authorities. The Upper Tribunal addressed the issue of the correct interpretation of ‘admissibility’ of a person who claims to be stateless to their country of former habitual residence, under paragraph 403(c) of the Immigration Rules. The single ground of judicial review is that the respondent’s definition of ‘admissible’ is unlawful, irrational and/or inconsistent with her own policy. The court found that 'admissible' means the ability to enter and reside lawfully and does not incorporate the concept of 'permanent residence'.

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

The case is a judicial review of the decision by the Secretary of State to reject the applicant’s application for limited leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a stateless person under paragraph 403 of the Immigration Rules. The Upper Tribunal found that the Secretary of State’s decision was unsustainable as the Secretary of State failed to comply with a duty to give effect to the terms of its own published policy, and the public law duty of enquiry, requiring it to proactively participate in the collection of information relevant to the decision being made.  Furthermore, the Upper Tribunal held that the Secretary of State’s decision was vitiated by an error of law, as the language of Article 1(1) of the 1954 Convention requires a decision-maker to ask itself if an applicant is a national of any State at the time of the determination.

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

The case concerns a Belarusian individual who had entered the UK in 1998, whose asylum applications were refused and who spent the subsequent eighteen years in immigration bail as his identity could not be confirmed and he could not be deported to Belarus. As he had left Belarus in 1991, he had effectively lost his Belarusian nationality and had become stateless. He complained that the state of “limbo” in which he was as a result of his immigration bail constituted an infringement of his right to private life. The court refused his application.

Court name: Constitutional Court of Hungary
State: Hungary
Date of decision:

The Constitutional Court held that in a case where the acting authority finds, on the basis of the opinion of expert agencies, that the applicant's stay would violate or endanger the national security of Hungary, the application for statelessness status shall be rejected on procedural grounds without further examination of whether the applicant qualifies as a stateless person.

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

A person born in Tajikistan applied for statelessness status. The applicant argued that he could not ask for nationality from Tajikistan because that country would force him to convert to Islam. The Spanish authorities dismissed the application because, under their understating of Tajikistan law, nationality from that country is granted on a jus sanguinis basis regardless of the religion or ethnicity of the applicant. The court confirmed the decision of the Spanish authorities to deny the statelessness status on the grounds that: (i) given the alleged nationality of his parents it was reasonable to assume that the applicant could have the right to nationality of Tajikistan; (ii) it was not proven that the authorities from Tajikistan actually denied nationality to the applicant, that his parents were not from Tajikistan nor that it was required to convert to Islam to obtain the nationality; and (iii) the applicant filed its application in 2012 despite having arrived in Spain in 2003 (this delay goes against the credibility of the application).

Court name: Constitutional Court of Hungary
State: Hungary
Date of decision:

The applicant, a stateless person residing in Hungary, faced protracted difficulties in regularising his legal situation, being eventually recognised as stateless after fifteen years' residence. During thirteen of those years, the applicant had no legal status in Hungary and was entitled to neither healthcare nor employment, nor was he able to marry. Constitutional Court proceedings were initiated by a judge, in which the judge proposed to declare that the term "lawful residence" in the territory of Hungary, as provided for in 76§ (1) of Act no. II of 2007 on Admission and Right of Residence of Third-Country Nationals (Harmtv), which requires a person to be lawfully staying in the country in order to be granted statelessness status, was contrary to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, and to order a general prohibition of its application in the given case. The Constitutional Court held that the term “lawful residence” was contrary to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, thus deleted it from the cited law. However, it refused to prohibit its application to the underlying procedure, as the applicant concerned was able to initiate a new procedure afterwards. This case reached the European Court of Human Rights (Sudita Keita v. Hungary).

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

The appellant’s nationality, or lack thereof, was the central issue of the remaking decision of this appeal. The appellant alleged that he was stateless and that this constituted “very compelling circumstances” outweighing the public interest requiring his deportation; he could not therefore be deported from the UK. The respondent alleged that the appellant was a de jure Guinean national and that the barriers to removal in his case were purely administrative in nature and did not therefore permit the appellant to succeed in his appeal. The Court found that the appellant failed to show, on the balance of probabilities, that he was stateless within the meaning of the 1954 Convention; rather, the appellant was found to be in “actual limbo”. The Court also held that it could not be said that the very strong public interest was outweighed by any factors supporting the appellant’s position, whether viewed in isolation or cumulatively. The Court further found that there may come a stage when all possible avenues to establish the appellant’s Guinean nationality and/or other means of facilitating a removal have been exhausted and that the prospect of deporting him from the UK could be considered so remote that Article 8 ECHR might provide a route for success; but, in the Court's judgment, that stage had not been reached by some distance.

 

Court name: District Court of Prague 7
Date of decision:

The Court ordered the Ministry of Interior to pay damages to an applicant to the statelessness determination procedure for experiencing delays in the procedure and excessively detaining him while awaiting a statelessness determination decision. 

 

Court name: Spanish Supreme Court
State: Spain
Date of decision:

The Supreme Court held that the initiation of the administrative procedure to recognise statelessness does not require the applicant to be in Spain. It is sufficient that he/she is at the border post. 

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

The case concerns the interpretation of Article 12(1)(a) of the 2011 Qualification Directive (equivalent to Article 1D of the Refugee Convention). The applicant requested international protection in Germany as he no longer had access to assistance from UNRWA in Syria. The Court held that to determine whether a person is no longer receiving protection or assistance from UNRWA, national authorities should consider all the fields of UNRWA’s areas of operations which a stateless person of Palestinian origin who has left that area has a concrete possibility of accessing and safely remaining therein.

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: Administrative Court of Appeal of Bordeaux
State: France
Date of decision:

The applicant asked to be granted the status as a stateless person in France, however both the OFPRA (French bureau for the protection of refugees and stateless persons) and the Courts denied him this status on the grounds that he did not take sufficient steps to request nationality from the Armenian authorities. He also argued that people from Azerbaijan face discrimination and are often refused Russian nationality, even when they may be able to benefit from it. The Court concluded that no discrimination exists and the applicant failed to take steps to obtain Russian nationality.  

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

A stateless person faced protracted difficulties in regularising his legal situation, and was recognised as stateless only after residing in Hungary for 15 years. During 13 of those years, the applicant had no legal status in Hungary and was entitled to neither healthcare nor employment, nor was he able to marry. The Court held that Hungary had not complied with its positive obligation to provide an effective and accessible procedure enabling the applicant to have his status in Hungary determined with due regard to his private-life interests under Article 8 ECHR.

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

The initiation of the procedure for the recognition of statelessness status does not require the applicant to be in the national territory, it is sufficient for the applicant to be at a border point.

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:

The applicant of Roma origin was denied a residence permit to the Netherlands on the basis of the applicant’s husband failing to meet the requirements under domestic immigration rules and because of the applicant’s multiple convictions. The Court held the Contracting State had struck a fair balance between the applicant’s Article 8 rights and its own interests in regulating its immigration.