The Court held that it is not contrary to EU law for Member States to withdraw citizenship obtained by deception, even if the effect is to also withdraw citizenship of the Union, so long as the decision observes the principle of proportionality.
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.
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.
The applicant, a citizen of Bhutan of Nepali ethnicity was refused asylum in Ireland as the tribunal held that the applicant was stateless and that his claim for refugee status was to be determined by reference to Nepal. The applicant sought for this decision to be quashed in that the Tribunal failed to consider the applicant’s risk of persecution in Bhutan. The Court dismissed the application holding that that the discriminatory and persecutory nature of a law depriving persons of nationality is not relevant to the determination of citizenship for the purposes of refugee status or statelessness.
The case concerns an applicant who was a Ukrainian citizen and a resident of Crimean Peninsular at the time of Crimean annexation to Russia. He was originally issued with a Russian passport in 2014, which was subsequently confiscated as a government initiated verification procedure established he did not comply with the relevant residency requirements to be considered a Russian citizen. The Court, on appeal, sided with the applicant, confirming his right to Russian citizenship despite not complying with all the formal requirements.
In its reasoning the Court relied heavily on the importance to take all the relevant and factual evidence when establishing the legal fact of residence, and basing it on a broad range of evidence about the person's personal and professional life, as well as intentions, not the merely the strict formalistic rules of residence registration, especially in light of consequences of denial of access to citizenship for the applicant, and the circumstances of state succession. The Court refers extensively to international legal instruments, even those Russia hasn't ratified, such as the European Convention on Nationality and its anti-statelessness safeguards, the CoE Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession, as well as art. 15 UDHR, and other international legal instruments.