Spain - Supreme Court, Contentious-administrative chamber, decision 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).

Case name (in original language)
Tribunal Supremo (Sala de lo Contencioso-Administrativo, Sección 3ª) Sentencia num. 469/2017 de 21 marzo RJ\2017\1245
Case status
Decided
Case number
469/2017
Citation
Supreme Court, Contentious-administrative chamber, decision 469/2017 (appeal no. 2600/2016), 21 March 2017
Date of decision
State
Court / UN Treaty Body
Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo)
Language(s) the decision is available in
Spanish
Applicant's country of birth
Tajikistan
Applicant's country of residence
Spain
Relevant Legislative Provisions
  • 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons
  • Constitutional Law of the Republic of Tajikistan on Nationality, 4 November 1995
  • Real Decreto 865/2001, de 20 de julio, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de reconocimiento del estatuto de apátrida (Regulation on the Statute of Stateless Persons)
Facts

The applicant was born in Tajikistan, as were his parents and grandparents. His birth was duly registered.

He requested the recognition of statelessness status but it was denied by the Ministry of Interior on 23 December 2014 because it believed that his right to hold Tajik nationality had not been violated, given that Tajik national law foresees that the main rule to acquire the Tajik nationality is by descent (ius sanguinis).

The applicant appealed this decision before the National Court and then before the Supreme Court. Both courts confirmed the Ministry of Interior's criteria.

Decision & Reasoning

Both the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) and the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) 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. It is not enough for the applicant to state that he does not hold a nationality. In this regard, proof is required that the State of Tajikistan does not grant him Tajik nationality. (iii) The applicant filed its application in 2012 despite having arrived in Spain in 2003 (this delay goes against the credibility of the application).

In addition, the sociopolitical situation in Tajikistan may not be used as an argument to grant recognition of statelessness, although it could be taken into account for granting asylum.

The court concluded that "the applicant had not proven that the State of Tajikistan (whose nationality in law he may reasonably be entitled to) has denied him that nationality" and, therefore, the applicant did not have the right to statelessness status under the 1954 Statelessness Convention.

Outcome

The applicant cannot be granted statelessness status because he has failed to prove that he meets the necessary requirements. Consequently, the Supreme Court upheld the National Court's decision upholding the Government's decision refusing the applicant's request.

Caselaw cited

Decision of the Contentious - Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of 22 December 2008 (cassation 8597/2004) in which it was stated that in the context of a statelessness status application, "beyond the mere statement by the applicant that he does not have a nationality, there must be some indication of the existence of the circumstances referred to in the statelessness regulations, since without it the recognition of the statelessness status is inappropriate".