Stateless Persons

Everyone has the right to citizenship. However, there are still around 10 million people without citizenship around the world, with around 600,000 living in Europe.

The situation of stateless persons is also relevant to Slovakia. At the Human Rights League, we help these people by going through the legal process for them to gain citizenship and live with dignity in Slovakian society.

Hear the stories of three individuals who came to Slovakia as stateless persons:

Ibrahim Azugar - Berber from Morocco, no citizenship


We often take for granted the rights and obligations attached to being a ‘citizen’ of a particular state. We do not even realise that the essential components of life, such as health care, school attendance, the right to free choice of occupation, social security benefits for illness, disability or loss of employment, travel, participation in electing political representatives, or marriage are unavailable to millions of people around the world.


Haval - Kurd from Syria, acquired citizenship in Slovakia

Stateless people are unable to officially register the birth of their child. For this reason, children of stateless persons neither have the right to go to school nor the right to public health or social benefits, and are incapable of seeking legal employment. Without citizenship, a person cannot vote, have a passport or get formal recognition for his or her marriage. A person may become stateless when he or she leaves his or her country of origin or country of last residence, and that country refuses to issue a re-entry visa. A person may remain in this stateless situation for a long period of time, or fall into this situation multiple times. When a person cannot prove the existence of a legal union with any state, the rights most fundamental to him or her are often denied.


Natalia - from the former USSR


Slovakia is a signatory to the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons (1954) and the Convention on the Reduction of the Number of Nationals (1961). Under the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, a stateless person is "a person who is not considered a citizen under the law of any State".


This definition was also adopted by the Slovak Aliens Residence Act. Under this Act, a stateless person may be granted permanent residence for an indefinite period even without meeting the conditions laid down in the law if he or she can prove that he or she does not have the nationality of the State:

(a) in which he or she was born,

(b) where he or she had previous residence or stay, and

(c) the nationality of his or her parents and other members of the family.


Given the absence of precise and unified procedures in Slovakia for determining statelessness, the non-existence or insufficiency of statistical data, and the lack of attention devoted to this vulnerable group of migrants in Slovakia, the Human Rights League decided to pay increased attention to the issue of stateless persons by carrying out research in this field and providing legal advice.


The Human Rights League is a member of the European Network on Statelessness (ENS), where you can find out more information on current campaigns in Europe to help stateless persons.


You can also read the story of Roman from the former Yugoslavia.