- 23 May 23
Mapping Statelessness in Ireland, published today, has reported that the lack of a formal system in place means that those stateless are "invisible in practice and unable to effectively assert their rights under the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons."
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)- The UN Refugee Agency- has voiced the need for a new procedure to recognise the rights of those considered stateless in Ireland.
Stateless people, who are defined as those who do not belong to any nationality, the UNCHR have estimated are “4.3 million worldwide”.
Whilst many of these people are born stateless, many come into it, due to a number of reasons that include discrimination by state authorities, gaps in nationality laws, conflicts between the laws of different states or the emergence of new states and changes in borders.
Statelessness presents a number of difficulties for people involving access to education, healthcare, employment, individual documentation and freedom of movement.
Although the number of those who are stateless in Ireland is thought to be low, according to a new UN report published this morning, the definitive figure is unknown as "systematic recording" of Ireland’s statelessness data does not yet exist.
The report titled, Mapping Statelessness in Ireland, recommended a procedure to account for those who are stateless in order to prioritise their “identification and protection.”
Despite the country being a state party to both the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the issue of mapping has received "little attention at the national level" according to today’s report.
"There is no definition of stateless persons within Irish law nor is there a statelessness determination procedure to identify stateless persons in Ireland,” Mapping Statelessness in Ireland reports.
"This lack of a formal system of identification and determination for stateless persons means they are invisible in practice and unable to effectively assert their rights under the 1954 Convention," it continues.
The UNHCR has outlined how without an official procedure in place to determine statelessness, "it is difficult to see how an individual could establish this and no data is collected on applications made by stateless persons".
RTÉ News has outlined that today’s report has demonstrated how an official procedure “would allow Ireland to fully meet its obligations under the UN Conventions on Statelessness according to the UNHCR”.
RTÉ has also reported that under the 1954 Convention, “there is a clear obligation on the Irish Government to issue stateless persons with stateless travel documents however they can't access them in practice”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told RTÉ that the department is now in the midst of considering "how best to address the issues raised" in the new publication.