4 April 2014

A new report by the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) shows that although most European countries have safeguards in place to ensure that children acquire a nationality in various circumstances where there is a risk of statelessness there are an array of gaps in the nationality laws and the laws governing civil registration procedures that continue to leave some children in Europe statelessness.

For instance, although the majority of European states have some form of safeguard in place to confer nationality on otherwise stateless children born on their territory, many of these safeguards are incomplete and do not meet the standards set by international law, the report states.

Furthermore, laws in Cyprus, Albania, Norway and Romania, for instance, provide no safeguards for children who are born stateless. The report states that the three latter countries are violating their obligations under the European Convention on Nationality and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessnes due to the lack of incorporation of key safeguards in their national laws.

The report recommends that European governments adopt and implement nationality laws that ensure that all otherwise stateless children born on the territory of an European country acquire a nationality promptly, and review nationality laws in order to identify and revise any provisions that could lead to loss of nationality of children.

It is estimated that from the over 10 million stateless worldwide, half are children. Not having a nationality increases people’s vulnerability to poverty, marginalisation, exploitation and detention and limits people’s life chances, ENS states.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 4 April 2014
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