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

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This webinar focussed on protecting stateless people from arbitrary detention in the context of returns procedures. Held on Tuesday 30 May, it was the fourth and final next event in our #StatelessJourneys webinar series on Identifying and Addressing Statelessness in the Refugee Context.

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 screeningdetermining 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.

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