We are delighted to announce that on the 27th March 2014, the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service, on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, issued what we believe to be the first declaration of statelessness in the State. The declaration was issued to our client on foot of his pending High Court proceedings again the Minister for Justice.
Our client is from Estonia, and is of Russian ethnicity. At the time of his birth, this area was within the territory of the USSR. In 1991, when Estonia became an independent State, his home town, with mostly Russian inhabitants, became part of the new territory of the Estonian State. The newly formed Estonian government did not issue Estonian citizenship to all residents within the territory of Estonia. Persons of Russian ethnicity, like our client, were issued with an “Alien’s Passport”, identifying their citizenship as “undefined”.
Our client has resided in Ireland since 2002, but until now could not obtain recognition of his stateless status because no legal or administrative process has been set up to deal with such applications. This is despite Ireland’s obligations pursuant to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, which Ireland has ratified.
In February 2013, Brophy Solicitors submitted an application to the Minister for Justice and Equality for a Stateless Travel Document for our client, and the application was refused because he did not have a letter form the Minister confirming his stateless status in the state.. We then applied for a declaration of statelessness, and on receiving no response three months later, we issued High Court proceedings against the Minister.
We are delighted for our client and his family that after 14 years, he has finally acquired recognition of his legal status as a stateless person, and we wish him and his family a big congratulations!
However, we remain very concerned for the other stateless persons in Ireland who are currently left in a legal limbo. We highlight the urgent need for a legal and administrative process to be set up for the recognition of stateless persons in Ireland.