Statelessness = invisibility in West Africa

At least 750,000 people are stateless in West Africa, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which is calling for governments to do more to give or restore the nationality of stateless individuals, and improve national laws to prevent statelessness.

Many in the region are both stateless and refugees, said Emmanuelle Mitte, senior protection officer on statelessness with UNHCR in Dakar, but the overwhelming majority of stateless persons in West Africa are stateless within their own country, lacking proof of the criteria required to guarantee their nationality.

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SA Adopts Stateless Baby

After a six-year legal battle, a girl born in South Africa to Cuban parents has a country she can call home.

Yesterday, the girl’s mother said she was able to sleep again after the Pretoria High Court last week ruled that her daughter was a South African citizen, and that the Department of Home Affairs had acted unlawfully by not registering her as such.

The Cape Town family – with the help of nonprofit organisation Lawyers for Human Rights – went to court after both South Africa and Cuba refused the child citizenship.

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Girl of Cuban Parents Gains SA Citizenship

The North Gauteng High Court set a precedent last week when it ordered the government to change its citizenship act to facilitate the granting of citizenship to children born in the country to foreign parents – and, therefore, prevent statelessness.

The order was made in a landmark case involving the 6-year-old daughter of Cuban parents, who was born in South Africa but could not inherit Cuban citizenship, as stipulated by Cuban laws. Cuban law states that children born outside Cuba, even to Cuban parents, are not Cuban citizens.

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Confusion on Zimbabwe Dual Citizenship Continues

Confusion surrounding the issue of dual citizenship continues, with the Zimbabwean government website showing that dual nationality is still prohibited, a fortnight after the Constitutional Court ruled otherwise.

According to the website the 1984 Citizenship Act which says ‘no adult citizen shall be a citizen of another country’ is still binding. This is also despite the fact it is more than a year since the country adopted a new Constitution which experts say permits dual nationality.

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High Court Recognises Child as Stateless and Declares Her to be a SA Citizen

Last week, the North Gauteng High Court  in Pretoria set a precedent by declaring a six-year-old child a South African citizen

The child was born to Cuban parents who, due to Cuban law, were not able to pass their citizenship to their child. The court made the order in line with Section 2(2) of the South African Citizenship Act, 88 of 1995. This section guarantees citizenship to children born in South Africa but do not have the nationality of any other country and whose births are registered in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 51 of 1992.

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