In amongst the numerous recent headlines regarding UK immigration, one very important but largely unnoticed rule has come into force. A new statelessness determination procedure has been introduced which will enable stateless persons to be formally recognised by the UK Government.
The procedure, which came into force on 6 April, has been hailed as a 'landmark step' by the UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR).
Although the UK is a signatory to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, there was previously no process of identifying these people and therefore of affording them any protection. A UNHCR and Asylum Aid report in 2011, Mapping Statelessness in the UK, identified this as a crucial gap in the UK's international obligations.
Last year, UNA-UK wrote to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in follow up to the UK's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council - where the human rights record of every member state is assessed. This issue was raised in the stakeholders' report to the UK's UPR, however this was not picked up in the 132 state recommendations.
UNA-UK called on the UK to address statelessness as a priority as it 'risks undermining the unique protection needs of stateless individuals, many of whom are denied permission to stay in the UK but also have no state to which they can be returned'.
Click here for an Asylum Aid briefing on the new procedure.