“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

Luka - Faces of Statelessness

I only want to work. Why they do not give me other residence permit so I am allowed to work? They force me to work illegally. I am tired.

Luka was born in Ukraine then still a part of the former USSR. After growing up in an orphanage, he moved to Slovakia in 1991 when he was only 15. Given the circumstances of his childhood Luka never had any documents from the Ukrainian state confirming his nationality.

During his stay in Slovakia Luka was repeatedly detained, last time in 2010, when he spent 14 months in the detention centre. He was released based on the decision of the court that his expulsion from Slovakia is not possible and was granted tolerated stay

Police repeatedly verified and investigated the possibility of an administrative expulsion to Ukraine, however Ukraine never confirmed his identity nor his citizenship.

Although Luka doesn’t have any travel document, the Slovak authorities simply recorded his citizenship as “undetermined”. All the evidence however suggests that he is indeed stateless.

Luka has a 8-year old son who is a Slovak citizen and who lives with him and his mother - Luka’s partner. Luka is unable to register himself officially as the father in his son’s birth certificate because he does not possess any identification document.

I am not recognised officially as a father of my son. My name is not written in his birth certificate. They refused to write it there because I don’t have any documents proving my identity.

In 2013, when Luka tried to submit an application for extension of his tolerated stay, he was asked to submit new documents from the Ukrainian embassy confirming that Ukrainian embassy refuses to issue him with replacement travel document.

Although the police had at that time already enough proof confirming that Ukraine did not accept Luka as its citizen they still refused to accept his application. Instead they issued Luka with a fine of € 80 for the misdemeanour of illegal stay. One week later he was given another fine, this time of € 160.

After living in Slovakia for over 20 years, Luka is still not recognised as being stateless and his tolerated stay status still doesn’t allow him to work or to have health insurance. He cannot marry his partner and he cannot be registered officially as the father of his son.