Monday, 10 July 2017


MEPs Claude Moraes and Cecilia Wikström submitted an opinion to the European Parliament's committees on civil liberties (LIBE) and petitions (PETI).

On Thursday, statelessness will take centre stage in the European Parliament’s LIBE and PETI committees, as its members turn their attention to one of Europe’s most hidden and marginalised populations.

A joint hearing will address the rights of women, men and children living in our communities who have no nationality. No citizenship. No place to belong.

To be stateless is not to be recognised as a national of any state, anywhere. To be stateless is to be prevented from accessing the most fundamental rights: the right to education, to health, to social welfare, to property, to marry, and – all too often – to liberty. It is to exist in limbo.

Despite being little known and little understood, statelessness affects more than 10 million people around the globe and at least 600,000 in Europe.

Statelessness disproportionally impacts on ethnic minorities like the Roma, due to discrimination, and people on the move, who may have already been stateless when they fled countries such as Syria and Iraq, or who have become so on their journeys to safety.

Most European countries frequently encounter stateless people or people of ‘unknown’ nationality in their asylum systems. Moreover, children are being born stateless in Europe to parents who are stateless or unable to pass on their nationality, because some countries still only have partial or no safeguards in their nationality laws to prevent childhood statelessness.

Other challenges like access to birth registration for refugee, migrant and other marginalised populations contribute to the problem.

We believe that it is time that we as European lawmakers faced up to this situation and put in place concrete solutions to ensure that nobody in Europe is left stateless in the future. Moreover, the solutions to these challenges lie within our reach.

It is surprising that there are EU members, who are expected to conform to the ECHR, who are not signatories to the UN Conventions on Statelessness. The UK is, which is why we do not revoke the nationality of citizens who do not have anywhere else to go, however much we may dislike them. One wonders though whether our current government's treatment of children born to immigrants is strictly in accordance with Article 1 of the 1961 Convention.

1. A Contracting State shall grant its nationality to a person born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless. Such nationality shall be granted: (a) at birth, by operation of law, or [...]

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