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 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 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.
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.
The applicant made several unsuccessful applications for asylum and other protection statuses in Luxembourg, before applying for a statelessness status. The latter was refused, as the Algerian consular authorities' statement concerning the applicant was interpreted as lack of confirmation of the applicant's identity, not a denial of Algerian nationality to him.
The applicant is a Palestinian from Syria, who holds a refugee status in Hungary. He also applied for a recognition as a stateless person in Luxembourg. The Court found that the 1954 Statelessness Convention was conceived as complementary to the Refugee Convention. Since the applicant as a refugee in Hungary received at least as good a protection as a Palestinian in an UNRWA protected territory, the latter category being explicitly excluded from the protection scope of the 1954 Convention, the applicant did not qualify for the recognition of a statelessness status in Luxembourg.
The applicant originates from former Soviet Union, and has lived in Luxembourg since 2004, unsuccessfully applying for the recognition of a statelessness status on numerous occasions. His identity has never been confirmed, and there were doubts as to the credibility of his testimony stemming from his asylum procedures. The applicant claimed that after 15 years of inability to determine the country of destination for his removal the attempts at deportation should be terminated, and his statelessness recognised, especially considering his poor health condition.
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.
The applicant was born in Austria to an Austrian mother and a father who was a refugee from Poland. The applicant argued that his father was stateless at the time of his birth (as this would lead to applicant being recognised as Austrian), and requested the authorities to accept his father's testimony as proof. The authorities concluded that the applicant's father was a Polish national solely on the basis of the Polish legislation, without evaluating the content of the testimony. The decision was declared unlawful on procedural grounds, as the testimony should have been taken into account.
Applicant is a refugee from Vietnam, whose refugee status was withdrawn after a number of criminal convictions, combined with the fact that he made a safe trip to Vietnam. He applied for a travel document for foreigners claiming that he is stateless or at least that his nationality status is unclear. The authorities maintained that he was still a Vietnamese national, but the Court sided with the applicant, insisting that the authorities should have taken more factors into account in considering the applicant's potential statelessness.
The applicant was born in Armenia and belongs to Yazidis minority. After many years of unlawful residence in Austria, and several unsuccessful attempts to deport him, he applied for a toleration permit, which was refused as he did not cooperate sufficiently with the authorities' attempts to obtain travel documents for him to travel to Armenia, and there is also a possibility he may be a Russian or a Ukrainian national. The Court sided with the applicant, stating that it was the authorities' responsibility to substantiate any presumed links between the applicant and a specific state, before the duty to cooperate could be imposed.
The applicant arrived in Belgium in 2000 from Kazakhstan. He claimed to have lost his Kazakh nationality on the basis of a Kazakh law providing for such loss in case of permanent residence abroad for over 3 years without registration at the consulate. The Court studied the relevant Kazakh legislation as well as the implementing Presidential Decree, and found that such loss is not automatic, but requires a decision of a competent authority instead, and therefore the applicant's statelessness was not sufficiently substantiated.
The applicant fled Kosovo in 1998, and during her asylum procedures in Belgium claimed to be a Yugoslav national, and had a Yugoslav passport as well as a birth certificate. In her statelessness determination process, the authorities and the Court found her to be uncooperative as she seemingly did not present all her identity documents to the embassy of Serbia and Montenegro with the aim of determining whether she is a Serbian national.
The applicant received asylum status as a stateless Palestinian, but his request to register his statelessness in the municipal civil records was rejected due to lack of evidence. He has an original UNRWA document and an ID from Lebanon, but they were considered insufficient proof of identity as well as of statelessness. The applicant complained that inability to affirm his statelessness violates his identity rights under article 8 ECHR, as well as his rights as a stateless person under EU law, both of which arguments didn't succeed.
The applicants are ethnic Armenians born in Azerbaijan. The case addresses extensively the situation of ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan who left Azerbaijan before the fall of the USSR, and lived in Russia in the 90s. Their potential Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian nationalities are considered. The Court also discusses the legal residence requirement for a travel document in accordance with the 1954 Convention, and finds that such a permit does not need to be of a permanent nature. Applicants are found stateless by the Court and entitled to a stateless persons travel document.
The appellant requested that the decision of the Court of Appeal be overturned, and her stateless status be recognised. The appeal raises 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 foreigners comparable to beneficiaries of international protection. The court recognised the stateless status of the applicant and overruled the decision of the Court of Appeal.
The applicant was born in the USSR, on the territory of contemporary Ukraine. He was denied stateless status in France on the basis that he did not make any efforts to get recognised as a national by either Ukraine or Russia. The Court upheld OFPRA's decision, ruling moreover that since the statelessness determination procedure is not aimed at granting residence rights, the applicant cannot rely on potential violations of articles 3 and 8 ECHR in case he is forced to return to Ukraine.
The applicant was born in the former USSR in the Nagorno-Karabakh region - a contested territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and he is ethnically Armenian. He entered France illegally, where he applied for stateless status (after unsuccessful asylum applications), which was rejected by the OFPRA, on the basis that he did not make enough effort to obtain nationalities of either Azerbaijan or Armenia. The Court upheld the administrative decision denying applicant the stateless status.
The Supreme Court decision laid down the principle according to which the statelessness determination procedure requires evidence of: (i) the lack of nationality of the State with which the person has significant connections and (ii) the legal or factual impossibility of obtaining the nationality of that State.
Request to have nationality changed from "unknown" to "stateless" denied, as it cannot be ruled out that the applicant's father has Macedonian nationality. Applicant did not provide enough evidence to determine statelessness.
If stateless individuals are not lawfully staying in the country, Contracting States may provide travel documents but the decision to grant them is discretionary, provided it is free from arbitrariness. A person applying for travel documents can be reasonably expected to return to their previous place of residence and apply for the nationality of their country of origin.