The judgment relies on earlier Constitutional Court judgments that have established that stateless persons who lost their nationality involuntarily and demonstrated that they do not have the right to permanent legal residence elsewhere should get residence rights in Belgium on an equal footing with refugees, and that the necessary national legislation is lacking to give effect to such rights. The applicant has a criminal record and was denied residence rights on that basis, but the Court ruled that criminal convictions are irrelevant for his residence rights, and ordered authorities to regularise his residence until new legislation comes to force that regulates the stateless persons' right to residence.
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 belongs to the Armenian ethnic minority in Azerbaijan. The Court declared her stateless, as the consular representatives of Azerbaijan in Belgium clearly refused to recognise her as a national on the basis of her ethnicity, even though by operation of law she may in fact have acquired Azerbaijani nationality. In determining her statelessness, the Court took into account the fact that she was previously unable to be recognised as Armenian, and does not have connections with any other States.
When a Palestinian refugee has left the territory covered by UNRWA’s mandate, she or he does no longer benefit from that protection. Thus, she or he cannot be legitimately excluded from the Statelessness Convention.
The recognition of stateless status cannot be denied on the basis that the applicant has not undertaken the necessary steps in order to regain the lost nationality, even if it was voluntarily renounced.
In order to be recognised as stateless, the applicant does not have to prove that she or he cannot acquire another nationality.