Statelessness Index for Albania
24 March 2021
ALBANIA NEEDS TO INTRODUCE A FAIR AND ACCESSIBLE PROCEDURE TO IDENTIFY AND PROTECT THOSE LIVING WITHOUT A NATIONALITY
To be stateless means not to be considered as a national by any State. Stateless people are often pushed to the margins of society. They are denied basic rights many of us take for granted: to go to school, to work, to marry, to register the birth of a child, to ‘legally exist’.
Today, new data on Albania published as part of a pan-European research project called the “Statelessness Index” revealed that despite its obligations under international law, Albania still lacks a dedicated procedure to formally identify and protect people on its territory without a nationality. A draft law which would introduce such a procedure is currently going through the Parliament. The Statelessness Index analysis shows that passing the law would bring Albania in line with other countries such as France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
In a push to prevent children from being born stateless, Albania has also pledged to address remaining gaps in the legal framework and has taken recent steps to prevent and reduce the risk of statelessness. The new Albanian nationality law that entered into force in 2020 introduced a safeguard for otherwise stateless children born on the territory, complementing the existing safeguards.
Author of the research in Albania Anisa Metalla from the Tirana Legal Aid Society said:
“The recent introduction of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness was an encouraging step in the right direction. The Tirana Legal Aid Society, along with UN Refugee Agency and the European Network on Statelessness, look forward to working closely with the Government to now see this implemented in practice. We are also on standby to help make sure that the new proposal for a statelessness determination procedure is in line with Albania’s international obligations and that it follows examples of good practice from other countries.”
Nina Murray, Head of Policy and Research and the lead coordinator of the Statelessness Index project based in London said:
“The recent developments are a proof that Albanian Government now has a real opportunity to turn things around to improve the lives of stateless people in Albania. Stateless people often fall between the cracks, finding themselves unable to rebuild their lives where they are. This is entirely preventable, and our Index was launched as a call to action for governments to honour their international obligations and implement straightforward changes to resolve this legal anomaly once and for all”.
The Statelessness Index is an online tool that assesses different countries’ approaches to addressing statelessness. The Index enables instant comparison between countries and against international norms and good practices. It allows users to quickly understand which areas of law, policy and practice can be improved by states and which can be looked to as examples of good practice in addressing statelessness.
In addition to Albania, the index project includes 26 other countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
For media enquiries please contact Senior Attorney at Law at the Tirana Legal Aid Society (TLAS) Anisa Metalla on +355692093731 or email [email protected]
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
1. The Tirana Legal Aid Society (TLAS) is one of the foremost NGOs in Albania dealing with the issue of statelessness. TLAS offers free legal aid services for thousands of stateless children and adults and has continued to work for the improvement of the birth registration system in partnership with the Albanian Government. The TLAS mission is the fulfillment of the legal and social needs of the poor, education and raising of the awareness of Albanian society on the rule of law and human rights; initiatives on the improvement of the legal system, development of the community and strengthening of democracy in Albania.The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) is a civil society alliance of organisations and individual experts committed to tackling statelessness in Europe. ENS has over 160 members in 41 countries and is dedicated to ending statelessness and ensuring that the estimated over half a million people living in Europe without a nationality are protected under international law.
2. Statelessness is a legal anomaly that affects over half a million people in Europe. A stateless person is someone who has no nationality. Despite the scale of the problem, countries across Europe all have very different approaches to dealing with statelessness which means that there is currently no consistent, clear or comprehensive approach to identifying those without nationality or preventing new cases of statelessness arising among children born on their territory.
3. New data on Albania is available as part of the Statelessness Index from 24 March 2021 at https://index.statelessness.eu/country/albania
4. Based on the 2011 Census data 7,443 stateless persons were identified as stateless. A more recent mapping study including children at risk of statelessness was carried out by UNHCR and TLAS (2018), which identified a further 1031 people at risk of statelessness.