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

The applicant is a Syrian Kurd, who fled to Austria in 2011. Just after he left, Syria passed a Decree that would have allowed the applicant to acquire Syrian nationality. The applicant was thus deemed to have been able to acquire Syrian nationality, even if he hasn’t done that, and therefore was not entitled to a stateless status.  

Court name: Constitutional Court of Austria (Verfassungsgerichtshof)
State: Austria
Date of decision:

The applicants arrived to Austria in 1989 from the Soviet Union, and became stateless the same year. They applied for Austrian nationality in 1993, before fulfilling the ten year residency requirement, and the judgment considers whether their statelessness can be considered as a circumstance "worthy of special consideration" allowing for an exception to the ten year residency requirement. 

Court name: Constitutional Court of Austria (Verfassungsgerichtshof)
State: Austria
Date of decision:

After having been born, having lived, worked and and paid taxes in Austria his whole life the applicant was told he is not entitled to unemployment benefits as he did not have a right to work in Austria. While he was granted Austrian nationality upon application, he argued that he was entitled to unemployment benefits also in the time frame between becoming unemployed and acquiring the nationality, invoking his statelessness, and lack of implementation of Statelessness Conventions by Austria. The Court denies direct applicability of the Statelessness Conventions in Austria, and rules against the applicant. 

Court name: Council of State of the Netherlands (Raad van State)
Date of decision:

The applicant is the mother of a stateless child born in the Netherlands, who applied for confirmation of Dutch nationality for her son. The application was rejected as the municipality neither considered it established that the child is stateless, nor that he has fulfilled the legal residence requirement. The applicant claimed that denial of confirmation of nationality for her son constitutes violations of article 8 ECHR, article 7 CRC and article 24 ICCPR, but those arguments failed in Court. The Court mentions the plans of the Dutch government to introduce a statelessness determination procedure. 

Court name: Council of State of the Netherlands (Raad van State)
Date of decision:

The applicants are ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan, and claim to be stateless. The applicants applied for naturalisation, which was denied to them on the basis that their identity could not be adequately established, as they neither submitted a valid travel document nor a valid birth certificate from Azerbaijan, and the Dutch municipality records did not formally recognise them as stateless.The Court upheld the administrative decision.

Court name: Versailles Administrative Court
State: France
Date of decision:

Applicants, both originally from Kazakhstan, appealed the rejection of their statelessness status. They had a document from the Kazakhstan embassy indicating they were no longer nationals, but OFPRA considered they needed to attempt to re-acquire the Kazakh nationality before benefiting from the statelessness status in France, and that the applicants' previous unsuccessful attempts to seek asylum are not an obstacle in attempting to reacquire their former nationality. The Court sided with OFPRA and confirmed the rejection of the statelessness status. 

Court name: Court of the Hague
Date of decision:

A child is born in the Netherlands in 2016, and has resided there since, without a legal residence permit. A request was made on behalf of the child to determine that he has Dutch nationality, on the basis of direct application of article 1 of the 1961 Convention, as he would otherwise be stateless. The Court refuses, as it considers this to be a question of granting Dutch nationality, and not of determination of Dutch nationality, which the Court is not empowered to do.

Court name: Council of State of the Netherlands (Raad van State)
Date of decision:

The case concerns a child born in the Netherlands to an undocumented mother of Chinese origin. The child is registered in the municipal records as having an "unknown" nationality. The mother attempts to register him as "stateless" to strengthen his claim to Dutch citizenship, but cannot meet the high standard of proof set by the municipality for registering statelessness. The Court sides with the municipality in this case, but implies that the legislator ought to establish a statelessness determination procedure in the Netherlands.

Court name: Council of State of the Netherlands
Date of decision:

Applicant was born in Macedonia and lived in the Netherlands for 38 years. His path to naturalisation was inhibited by the registration of his nationality status as "unknown" in the municipal records, which he requested to change to "stateless", arguing that he has never acquired the Macedonian nationality. The Council of State sided with the municipality that denied the request, maintaining that it has not been "irrefutably established" that the applicant is not a Macedonian national. The judgment refers to the Dutch legislative initiative on the statelessness determination, implying that it is needed, and that the municipal registry is not a statelessness determination procedure.  

Court name: High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division
Date of decision:

A child (MK) was born in the UK in 2010 and her parents were both nationals of India. MK had made an application for registration as a British citizen. Paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 of the British Nationality Act 1981 requires that the child 'is and always has been stateless'. The key issue was whether, in order to be considered stateless, the child was required to have sought (and failed) to acquire the nationality of her parents. The Court determined that there was no requirement to have sought the nationality of the parents, and MK was, if she met the other relevant requirements, entitled to register as a British citizen, as she was and always had been stateless at the date of the relevant Home Office decision. Further, the Secretary of State could require an applicant to prove the relevant facts, but could not lawfully 'impose requirements that cannot, or practically cannot, be met'.

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

The applicant is a Saharawi man who was born in the former Spanish Sahara and who, in 1979, fled to the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf (Algeria), where he lived until 2005, when he arrived in Spain after being issued a passport by the Algerian authorities. In Spain, he applied for statelessness status. The Ministry of Interior rejected his application based on his Algerian passport, but this decision was overturned, on appeal, by the High Court, which found that Algerian passports are just travel documents.  

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

The case concerns a Saharawi woman who was not recognised as a stateless person by the Ministry of Interior, in a decision which was later upheld by the High Court. The Supreme Court overturned both the lower decisions.

Court name: Administrative Court in Zagreb
State: Croatia
Date of decision:

The applicant was born in 1984 in the Republic of Croatia and her birth was registered, but she never acquired citizenship. The case concerns her subsequent acquisition of citizenship as a stateless person with permanent residence.

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

An Egyptian national, who resided in Malta and acquired Maltese nationality, was granted authorisation to renounce his Egyptian nationality as he could not hold dual nationality while in Malta. He was deprived of his Maltese nationality years later, following a decision that found that he had obtained his Maltese nationality from his first marriage through fraud. The Court found that there was no violation of Article 8 and held that the decision to deprive the applicant of his Maltese nationality did not adversely affect him.