In Ireland, there is no procedure for the determination and recognition of a person’s status as stateless, despite the fact that Ireland is a party to both the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
The UNHCR Irish office has highlighted this failing in the Irish Immigration system, and it is stated as follows on their website
“UNHCR has noted that, in Ireland there is currently no discrete procedure in which a stateless person can have their status considered. The absence of identification impacts on a stateless persons’ ability to get, for instance, travel documents, and to make representations to the Minister to waive the naturalization requirements as specified in Section 16 (g) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended).
UNHCR is currently working with the Irish authorities to see how statelessness identification procedures might be introduced in Ireland.”
It is surprising that the Irish State appears to recognize statelessness in one very narrow respect – applications for Naturalization. Section 16 (g) of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) provides the Minister for Justice and Equality, the discretion to waive the normal conditions for naturalization for both refugees and Stateless persons. It is strange that stateless persons can apply for such a benefit where they cannot officially apply to the State to have their stateless status recognized.
It is also surprising that to the Travel Document Section of the INIS website indicates the Minister’s policy in issuing travel documents to stateless persons as follows;
“The State (Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service) is obliged to issue travel documents to persons granted protection in accordance with:
- The 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Article 28) and The Refugee Act, 1996 (Article 4)
- The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (Article 28)
- The European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (SI 518 of 2006)”
However, it is impossible to obtain such a stateless Travel Document in Ireland, because no person can currently obtain recognition of their stateless status.
We have recently issued High Court proceedings seeking a declaration that the Minister’s failure to have in place a transparent and effective system by which our client can apply for and obtain a declaration of statelessness and a 1954 Convention Travel Document constitutes a breach of the our client’s right to the effective exercise of his legal rights under European Union law, the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.
Until the Minster has set up a fair process for the determination and recognition of stateless persons, we suggest that all stateless persons resident in the State should write to the Minister for Justice, to make the following requests ;
- Request the Minister to acknowledge your status as a stateless person by way of a Certificate of Statelessness
- Request that the Minister provide you with a Travel Document pursuant to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
- Request the Minister to explain why no mechanism has been put in place to acknowledge your status as stateless, despite Ireland being a party to the Conventions on Statelessness
- Request the Minister to explain if and when such a mechanism will be put in place.