This submission analyses the right to a nationality and human rights challenges pertaining to statelessness in Switzerland. It highlights why statelessness remains an issue in Switzerland, focusing in particular on:
I. The Lack of a Formal Statelessness Determination Procedure
II. The Right of Every Child to Acquire a Nationality
III. Deprivation of citizenship
IV. Protection for stateless persons and people at risk of statelessness fleeing the war in Ukraine
The submission urges reviewing States to make the following recommendations to Switzerland:
- Accede to and fully implement the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1997 European Convention on Nationality.
- Establish the statelessness determination procedure in law and ensure that the procedure is fair, effective and accessible to all persons in Switzerland regardless of their legal status. The procedure should comply with international standards of due process and follow the procedural safeguards outlined in UNHCR’s Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons. Switzerland should create a specific temporary residence status for applicants in line with the relevant UNHCR guidance.
- Ensure that the definition of ‘stateless person’ in national law is fully consistent with the definition provided in the 1954 Convention and that no stateless persons are excluded from this definition on extraneous criteria.
- Put in place safeguards to ensure that all children born in Switzerland who would otherwise be stateless acquire Swiss nationality automatically at birth in accordance with Switzerland’s obligations under Article 7 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
- Introduce a facilitated naturalisation procedure for all stateless persons in accordance with Switzerland’s obligations under Article 32 of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
- Refrain from depriving persons of nationality in any case where the effect would be discriminatory, could render the person stateless or at risk of statelessness, could result in refoulement, encroaches on prosecution interests, or when a less intrusive means is available.
- Take steps to ensure that children are not arbitrarily deprived of their nationality, and respect private and family life and the best interests of children in decisions to deprive individuals of their nationality.
- Implement training and guidelines for authorities who are in contact with persons who could be recognised as stateless, to ensure that they have the necessary expertise and resources to effectively identify and determine statelessness and nationality issues. Facilitate the cooperation between authorities and establish protocol for cross-referral mechanisms. Provide information on the procedure for applicants which is easily accessible and translated in different languages.
- Ensure that training, screening and registration leads to the identification and referral of persons fleeing Ukraine, who may be stateless, and enables them to access protection and the statelessness determination procedure, with the support of legal aid and interpreters as necessary.