The Stateless Rights Collective (SRC) is a group of stateless individuals in the Netherlands advocating for the rights of people without a nationality. For this blog post, we spoke to them about their recent work to establish the group, including challenges they have faced and aspirations of the future. From facing hurdles in communication and coordination to their dedication to raising awareness and influencing policy, discover SRC's journey towards fostering a more inclusive environment for those living without a nationality in the Netherlands.
Who are the Stateless Rights Collective (SRC)?
We are a group of stateless people in the Netherlands advocating for the rights of all stateless people. Our mission is to create a path that spares other stateless individuals from enduring the same hardships. Unfortunately, most of us do not have a permit and have nowhere else to call home. The lack of right to travel and essential documents confines us to one place, restricting our opportunities and freedom. It has been difficult for a lot of us to prove that we are stateless and are often not believed by the Dutch government. They for example register us as ‘Nationality Unknown’, denying our origins. We started our collective because we want our voices to be heard nationally and internationally. We would also like to support each other and other stateless people by building this community. In doing so, we have been meeting monthly since January with the support of ASKV and ISI.
What is it like to be part of a community group? What are the good things and what are the challenges?
With this group, we can share thoughts and support each other. Learning from each others’ stories and focusing on stateless people's issues creates a strong bond among us. The group is there to help each other with legal and personal matters, and it is comforting to be with others who understand our situation. We are a community that is in a similar situation and we understand the problems that we have to deal with from day to day. We also gain knowledge about procedures, our rights, and how to use them effectively.
However, there are challenges we face as well. Finding time for regular meetings can be tough, because we do not live in the same cities. This means most people have to travel hours to get to the meeting places. Some members wish to meet more frequently, and we aspire to make faster progress, even though we are still in the early stages. So, now we are adapting to meeting online. Also communication can be tricky due to our diverse backgrounds and languages, but we work to overcome these obstacles. We hope to make the group bigger in the future. Despite the challenges, being part of a community group provides us with support and understanding as we go through our shared experience of statelessness.
What change do you want to make?
We want to raise awareness among politicians and media about our existence and our situation in the Netherlands. We address the challenges in the process for determining statelessness and the long waiting times for applications and procedures. We want to make the country comply with the conventions that it signed, and respect our rights.
The Netherlands passed a law on the 6th of June that finally establishes a Statelessness Determination Procedure, that will go into effect on the 1st of October. Recognized stateless people will not be given a residence permit though. This goes against international law. We demand a specific procedure for stateless people and time limits for other procedures, like the 'No Fault' procedure that some of us are in. During these long processes, we are isolated from the rest of society and not allowed to work and move freely. Our talents are wasted and our futures are uncertain. Our children, who are growing up in the Netherlands and sometimes even born here, are affected by these issues and are denied their basic human rights, including being safe. We want our children to be allowed to participate fully in society and for them to build a future by having a nationality. Currently, there is no route for them to obtain this. In the new law there will be an option procedure for stateless children born in the Netherlands who have lived here for 5 years, but the requirements are so strict that our children (as many others) will not be able to make use of it.
How are you planning to make this change? What do you have planned?
Our primary goal is to have the necessary policy changes to ensure our rights. In the next months, we will have meetings twice a month to prepare for the upcoming elections in November. To engage with politicians and decision-makers more effectively, we will have workshops on lobbying, public speaking and writing political letters. By the end of October we want to organize an event where we can sit down and meet with politicians. Our other goal is to grow the community and so we will keep coming together and informing other stateless people of their rights. Throughout this process, we are continuously learning and improving to achieve our goals.