United Kingdom - ML (Morocco), R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2177 (Admin)
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), decision no. 469/2017 (appeal no. 2600/2016)
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).
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).
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.
Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), decision no. 1091/2020 (appeal no. 3661/2019)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), decision 1091/2020 (appeal no. 3661/2019)
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.
The applicant was a former asylum seeker, who in 2016 was awarded humanitarian protection by the Territorial Commission of Turing, in recognition to the risk of becoming stateless. The applicant could not obtain citizenship under neither the Ivorian nor the Malian law. For this reason, the Turin Court of First Instance recognised the stateless status of the applicant, under Art.1 of the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954 Convention).
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.
The appellant faced deportation even though her stateless status was de facto recognised. For this reason, the appellant requested that the Justice of Peace’s decision be overturned, and for her stateless status to be recognised. The Supreme Court recognised the applicant’s stateless status and overruled the Justice of Peace’s decision.
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.
This case concerned an appeal as to whether an applicant for subsidiary protection may be considered both as a national of a third country and a stateless person simultaneously under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 and the Qualification Directive. The Court held that a person who is a national of a state is not a stateless person and that such state or country is his country of origin in relation to which his application must be primarily decided.
Saharawi refugees living in its camps have not explicitly or implicitly been recognised as Algerian nationals, by the Algerian Government. The applicant’s passport issued by the Algerian Government grants the status of a travel document. Specifically, it was granted to allow the applicant to travel for medical reasons. The applicant’s stateless status must be recognised.
Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), judgment no. 470/2017 (appeal no. 2610/2016)
The applicant, of Palestinian origin, applied for stateless status, arguing that Spain does not recognise Palestine as a State. The Supreme Court rejected her application arguing that many countries in the international community recognise Palestine as a state, implying that Palestine provided the applicant with protection.
The court stated that “not admitting applicants for statelessness status to an asylum seekers' accommodation centre is an unlawful action” and the applicants should be admitted to an accommodation centre until a decision is made on their applications for recognition as a stateless person. The case was argued based on an analogy with the asylum procedure, as the reference to stateless persons is currently in the Czech Asylum Act.
The applicant was born in South Africa, and subsequently lived in Zimbabwe and Spain before arriving to Luxembourg, where he applied for the recognition of his statelessness status. The request was initially refused by the authorities since the applicant was not residing legally in Luxembourg at the time he submitted the application, but the courts ruled in applicant's favour, finding that the applicants residence status in Luxembourg is irrelevant for establishing whether he is stateless.