Stateless persons

Being citizens of a certain state, we take the rights and duties stemming from this alliance for granted. We hardly realize that the basics of our lives, such as health care, school education, freedom to choose job and career, social security in case of illness, disability or loss of job, travelling, the right to vote our representatives or marriage, are unavailable to millions of people worldwide. Stateless people cannot officially register the birth of their child, the child cannot enjoy the right to attend school, such persons cannot be legally employed, they have no right of access to public health care or social benefits. Without citizenship one cannot vote, does not possess a passport, cannot officially get married. In case such a person leaves his/her country of origin or country of last residence, and this country denies issuing him/her re-entry visa, he/she may end up in a hopeless situation, sometimes even under police detention for a very long time, or repeatedly. Not rarely, the very basic rights of persons who cannot declare any legal bond with any state, are violated.

Currently, there are about 12 million stateless persons in the world. Yet, these are only estimations as the organizations dealing with the issue of stateless people, including UNHCR and Refugees International, struggle to detect accurate numbers.

The Slovak Republic is a signatory state of the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954) and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961). According to the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law“. This definition has been transposed by the Slovak law on residence of foreign nationals. In line with this law, a stateless person can be granted a permanent residence for an indefinite period of time even without the fulfillment of the conditions stated by the law, provided that this person declares having no legal bond with

a)      the state he/she was born,

b)      the state of his/her former domicile or residence,

c)      the state of which citizenship his/her parents and other family members possess.

With regard to the absence of precise and unified statelessness determination procedure in Slovakia, as well as absence and inconsistency of relevant statistics and lack of attention devoted to this vulnerable group of migrants, Human Rights League has decided to pay increased attention to the issues of stateless people via conducting research in this area and by providing legal counseling.

Liga za ľudské práva je členom European Network on Statelessness (ENS).