“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

Protecting stateless persons from arbitrary detention

The increasing use of immigration detention and the criminalisation of irregular migration is a disturbing trend across Europe. Moreover, despite a range of international standards, including the fact that all EU states have ratified (or pledged to ratify) the 1954 Statelessness Convention, there remains an acute absence of effective national frameworks to deal with statelessness. 

As such there currently exists a huge gulf between notional protection provided under relevant legal standards and the actual realisation of those rights in practice. The lack of protection on the one hand, and the growth of the immigration detention industry on the other has left many stateless persons vulnerable to arbitrary detention in Europe. Some face indefinite detention because there is no country to which they can be returned but equally no prospect of regularisation in the country hosting them.

While these trends are of concern in general, the specific impact on stateless persons – particularly those who are irregular migrants – has not been studied in any detail.

ENS is therefore embarking on a three year project aimed at:

  1. Studying the extent and impact of the arbitrary immigration detention of stateless people in Europe

  2. Developing regional and country-specific tools to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention in Europe

  3. Training lawyers, NGOs and other actors to use the ENS tools to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention

  4. Engaging in an advocacy campaign to strengthen protection for stateless persons at country-specific and regional levels.