Nationality & Statelessness

The problem of statelessness is closely related but distinct from that of legal invisibility. There are individuals whose nationality has not been registered even though they fulfilled all conditions for acquiring citizenship. Among this group are persons born in Serbia to parents who are Serbian citizens, whose birth has been registered in due time, but whose citizenship has not been registered. This is a common problem with a significant number of former “legally invisible” persons who managed to subsequently register their birth in birth registry books, but not their citizenship. While the Law on Citizenship states that all children born in the territory of Serbia will acquire citizenship, even if the parents’ citizenship is unknown, in practice, these children often have undetermined citizenship status. Other cases involve persons who had been registered in registry books which were later destroyed or lost or became unavailable. All those who used to be registered in the Kosovo registries which were destroyed or lost during the conflict in 1999, and who do not possess evidence of their earlier registration in birth registry books are in almost the same position as “legally invisible” persons. They have never, in the course of their lives, lost citizenship in a legally prescribed sense but, because they are unable ‘to prove’ their nationality, are forced into statelessness. These individuals are treated as if they have never acquired citizenship of any state. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, many persons who lived in the Republic of Serbia did not manage to acquire citizenship. This problem disproportionately affected persons of Roma ethnicity who lived in informal settlements, without registered permanent residence and, as a result, could not acquire citizenship of the Republic of Serbia in a facilitated manner. The only other option they have is to undergo a process of naturalization however, this process is lengthy and many do not meet the requirements.

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Persons at Risk of Statelessness in Serbia - Case Studies

Persons at Risk of Statelessness in Serbia

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