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:

This case concerns an Estonian national who renounced her nationality on the basis of an assurance that she would be granted Austrian nationality once proof of her renunciation was given. This assurance was revoked on the grounds that the applicant had committed road traffic offences, leaving the applicant stateless. In its judgment, the CJEU confirms that the situation at issue in the main proceedings falls within the ambit of EU law, and concluded that the authorities' decision to revoke an assurance to grant Austrian nationality was not compatible with the principle of proportionality.

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:

The Dutch requirement that a child provide proof of lack of nationality in order to be recognised as stateless was a violation of Art 24 ICCPR. As a person registered with 'unknown nationality' the child could not benefit from international protections afforded to stateless children, including the right to acquire the nationality of the State in which they are born.

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

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.

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:

An applicant born to a British mother and Maltese father was denied Maltese citizenship on the basis that the domestic legislation was only applicable to children born out of wedlock, if their mother was Maltese. The Court held there were no reasonable grounds for the difference in treatment and found this to be a violation of Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 8.

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. 

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

The applicant was born in 1974 to an Iranian father and Austrian mother, and by virtue of the laws applicable at the time only acquired Iranian nationality. Austrian nationality was granted to him by a court decision in 1981. He later moved to the US where he wishes to naturalise, and requested permission from Austria to retain Austrian nationality. Such permission, however, can only be granted to nationals by birth. The Court found a violation of the principle of equality of treatment among nationals. 

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

In 2012, the applicant received a guarantee that he would receive Croatian citizenship if he would renounce his UK nationality, and he proceeded with the renunciation. In 2013, criminal proceedings against the applicant were initiated, and his naturalisation application was thus postponed and subsequently, after the criminal conviction, rejected - leaving him stateless. The Court ruled against the applicant, finding that naturalisation is a discretionary power of the state and not a right of an individual, and that all the naturalisation requirements, including renunciation of previous nationality and lack of criminal record, need to be met cumulatively for a successful naturalisation.

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

The applicant was born in Yugoslavia on the territory of Croatia, to parents who were born on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The applicant's birth registration erroneously included an entry "Muslim", which was subsequently crossed out and replaced by a reference to his origin from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The applicant argued that he should have been registered as a Croatian national at birth, just like his brother was, and that denial of Croatian nationality status would mean that he became stateless after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. 

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

The applicant attempted to obtain Montenegrin nationality for himself and his two minor children through naturalisation. The requests were rejected, as the applicant did not fulfil all the naturalisation requirements. However, with regard to the children, the Court ruled that even though their parent's naturalisation failed, their entitlement to the Montenegrin nationality should be explored on the basis of acquisition at birth, as the children are otherwise stateless, and annulled the part of the administrative decision related to the children on the basis of insufficient reasoning. 

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.