WEBINAR: Detention and return: protecting the rights of stateless people

30 May 2023 13:00 - 13:45 CEST

On Tuesday 30 May, we held the fourth and final next event in our #StatelessJourneys webinar series on Identifying and Addressing Statelessness in the Refugee Context. This last webinar will focus on protecting stateless people from arbitrary detention in the context of returns procedures.



Webinar overview

People who are stateless or at risk of statelessness are at heightened risk of arbitrary, prolonged and unlawful detention, leading to serious human rights violations in European returns procedures. Where states fail to identify people at risk of statelessness, or to refer persons with uncertain nationality status to an adequate process to determine whether they are stateless, individuals may face prolonged periods in detention or limbo without any prospect of removal.

Statelessness must be considered a relevant factor in detention and return decisions, as by the nature of being stateless, very often a stateless person will not have a country to which they can be returned, as no country recognises them as a national. Most countries will only accept to receive their own recognised nationals as returnees, meaning that stateless people who are not identified may face repeated or lengthy detention, as host states seek to enact returns which are not practically possible.

It is therefore essential that frontline workers across Europe are properly equipped to identify people who may be stateless, and to refer them away from detention or returns procedures. Stateless people must be provided with information and legal assistance, referred to a suitable procedure to determine their statelessness status and regularise their stay, and issued with identification documents and adequate support outside of detention.

Building on lessons from the first three webinars focussing on asylum registration and screening, determining statelessness in the refugee context, and children’s right to a nationality and birth registration, this webinar presents the importance of considering statelessness in detention and return decisions, tools for responding to, recording and referring cases of statelessness, and offers an introduction to what needs to change at the policy and operational level.


13:00-13:05 Welcome

13:05-13:20 Presentation by Alexia Tizzano, ENS

ENS will present on its briefing on Detention and Return

13:20-13:35 Presentation by Marta Gionco, Advocacy Officer, PICUM

An overview of the work of PICUM on prevention of unlawful detention and ensuring access to human rights and routes to regularisation for undocumented migrants

13:35-13:45 Q&A & closing remarks

Who is the webinar aimed at?

This webinar is aimed at anyone working within the refugee, asylum or migration context, including government and civil society practitioners, community representatives, social workers, and others. It will be particularly relevant for those involved in refugee registration, reception and screening procedures, and immigration detention and return.


Marta Gionco

Marta Gionco

Advocacy Officer, PICUM

Alexia Tizzano

Alexia Tizzano

Legal Officer, European Network on Statelessness

About the series

Many frontline refugee practitioners have limited awareness of statelessness or how to identify or adequately assist stateless persons with issues relating to lack of nationality.

The Stateless Journeys campaign and website was launched by ENS in late 2022, to build awareness around how statelessness plays out in refugee communities. We have launched eight short briefings relating to various aspects of (risk of) statelessness, designed to increase awareness particularly amongst frontline practitioners on how to respond adequately. These are available in 10 different languages.

This series of 4 short webinars from March to May 2023 will offer an introduction to refugee practitioners on issues covered in the briefing tools and build awareness around addressing statelessness.

Other topics in the series

Improving identification of statelessness in asylum registration and screening (8 March)

The failure to identify statelessness and protect stateless people can put people at risk and cause serious human rights violations. This webinar will focus on how to identify (risk of) statelessness during the asylum procedure, and why this is important.

Read our briefing: Registration and Screening

Watch the recording

Protection: determining statelessness in the refugee context (27 April)

Stateless refugees may often end up being subject to poor reception conditions for prolonged periods due to their statelessness not being identified early on. A lack of standardised procedures for identifying statelessness throughout the refugee status determination procedure can negatively impact refugee status determination and/or result in other harmful impacts for stateless people.

Read our briefing: Reception and Status Determination

Register for the webinar

Children’s right to a nationality and birth registration (16 May)

A child who is not considered a national of any country is often unable to access other rights, like education, welfare benefits, and healthcare. This webinar aims to build practical awareness of how to recognise risks of statelessness and ensure that refugee children are protected and have full access to their rights.

Read our briefing: Children's Rights to a Nationality

Read our briefing: Birth Registration

Detention and return: protecting the rights of stateless people (30 May)

Stateless people refused asylum can end up spending prolonged periods of time unlawfully detained because they have no country to which they can be returned. This can be avoided by knowing how to recognize and follow up on cases where someone is without nationality.

Read our briefing: Detention and Return

Related topics