Statelessness in Europe is made worse by the failure of countries to live up to commitments they have made under international and human rights law. We believe it’s vital to hold states to account in respect of their legal obligations to protect stateless people.
This is why we've recently expanded our strategic litigation work. As part of this, we are actively pursuing cases involving human rights violations of stateless people that have the potential to secure judgements which can force governments to bring about legal and social change. To support this work we have developed a new Statelessness Case Law Database and have been developing our strategic litigation partnerships with members and law firms.
This week we've partnered up with the AIRE Centre to submit a joint intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in a case involving a stateless man living in Italy. The case involves Velimir Dabetić, who for more than two decades lived with an uncertain legal status, unable to acquire any nationality or receive protection as a stateless individual.
Born in what was then Yugoslavia, he moved to Italy as a permanent resident in 1989 and has lived there ever since. When his Yugoslav passport expired in 2002, he lost the right to live and work in Italy, but had nowhere else to go. Italy failed to address his application for statelessness status for several years, leaving him under threat of arrest and stuck in limbo.
Our intervention sets out the obligations Italy has under international law and asks the Court not only to provide redress in Mr Dabetić’s case but also to compel Italy to address a wider systemic failure to protect stateless people. A successful judgment would also set an important precedent that other European states would have to follow.
We do not pretend that a few high-profile judgments will solve statelessness. But we know that without litigation we will not meet our objectives. Armed with our database and a growing network of lawyers litigating on statelessness, we are determined to achieve further success in the courts over the coming years, around which we will build a future Europe where everyone can enjoy their right to a nationality.
You can support our work with a donation to help us achieve this.