Albania

The legal and policy framework in Albania has some positive aspects and some important gaps. Positively, Albania is state party to three of the four core statelessness conventions with no reservations, as well as all other relevant international instruments. Some data is available on the stateless and at-risk population from the census and a more recent mapping study, but there is no ‘stateless’ category in asylum and immigration data, including in relation to detention.

There is a definition of a stateless person in Albanian law, but it is narrower than the 1954 Convention definition. There is no statelessness determination procedure, but some rights are granted to stateless people by law, including the right to apply for residence on humanitarian grounds, legal aid, and a travel document. However, these are difficult to access as a formal procedure and identification documents are required. There is a facilitated route to naturalisation with a reduced residence period (although this was increased from five to seven years in 2020) and exemptions from some of the standard requirements. Some limited safeguards protect against the arbitrary detention of stateless people but there are barriers to effective remedies and legal aid, and people released from detention are not protected from re-detention.

With recent amendments, the law now ensures that children born stateless on the territory, foundlings, adopted children and most children born to nationals abroad acquire Albanian nationality. There have been recent measures to reduce the risk of statelessness and improve access to birth registration, but children still face difficulties if parents are undocumented or have irregularities in their documentation and Romani and Egyptian communities are disproportionately impacted. New powers were introduced in 2020 to deprive naturalised Albanians of their nationality on national security grounds, but there is a safeguard to prevent this resulting in statelessness.

Last updated: 
Mar 2021
Next scheduled update: 
Mar 2022
Country expert(s): 

Additional resources

ASSESSMENT KEY

++POSITIVE
+ SOMEWHAT POSITIVE
+-POSITIVE and NEGATIVE
- SOMEWHAT NEGATIVE
--NEGATIVE

ADDITIONAL INFO

-NORMS & GOOD PRACTICE

 

International and Regional Instruments

Assesses whether countries are State party to the relevant international and regional instruments, including whether reservations have an impact on statelessness, and whether instruments are incorporated into domestic law. The four core statelessness treaties (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; European Convention on Nationality; Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession) carry more weight than other relevant human rights instruments in the assessment.

Albania is State party to three of the core statelessness conventions: 1954 Convention, 1961 Convention and the European Convention on Nationality. It entered no reservations to these treaties, and all have direct effect in domestic law. Albania is State party to almost all other relevant international and regional instruments except for the Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession to which it is not a state party.

  • Albania is State party to the 1954 Convention with no reservations and it has direct effect.
  • Albania is State party to the 1961 Convention with no reservations and it has direct effect.
  • Albania is State party to almost all relevant international and regional instruments with no reservations, except for the Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession to which it is not a State party.

Statelessness Population Data

Examines the availability and sources of disaggregated population data on statelessness. Provides recent figures and assesses reliability of measures countries have in place to count stateless persons, including in the census, population registries, and migration databases. Notes whether statelessness has been mapped in the country and whether there are sufficient measures in place to count stateless persons in detention.

Some data is available on the stateless population in Albania, but this is somewhat limited. The last census carried out in 2011 included a category ‘stateless’ for which data is available disaggregated by sex, but not by residence or documentation status, and this is now out of date. A mapping study carried out by UNHCR and Tirana Legal Aid Society in 2018 identified children and adults at risk of statelessness in Albania, and civil registration authorities introduced a tool to improve the identification of people at risk of statelessness in 2018. There is no ‘stateless’ category in asylum and immigration data and no information is available on stateless people held in immigration detention.

  • The census contains a category 'stateless' that is disaggregated by sex. Data is based on self-identification and is now out of date. Census data is not disaggregated by residence status, protection, or documentation status.
  • In 2011, 7,443 stateless persons were identified in the census (3,874 men and 3,569 women).
  • A recent mapping study including children at risk of statelessness was carried out by UNHCR and TLAS (2018), which identified 1031 people at risk of statelessness.
  • A new tool was introduced to aid identification and tracking of people at risk of statelessness by civil registration authorities in 2018.
  • There is no 'stateless' category in asylum and immigration data, but published data contains potentially overlapping categories, for example, Palestine (292 applicants in 2018) and Syria (2,150 applications in 2018).
  • No information is available on stateless persons held in immigration detention - 'stateless' is not a category in detention data published by the authorities.

Statelessness Determination and Status

Identifies whether countries have a definition of a stateless person in national law that aligns with the 1954 Convention, and whether they have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure (SDP) leading to a dedicated stateless status. If an SDP is not place, it assesses whether there are other procedures in which statelessness can be identified or other routes through which stateless people could regularise their stay or access their rights. Countries are subdivided in three groups to enable comparison between those with an SDP leading to protection, those with other procedures, and those with a stateless status but no clear mechanism to access protection. The existing procedures and rights granted to stateless persons are examined and assessed against international norms and good practice.

There is a definition of a stateless person in Albanian law, but it is narrower than the 1954 Convention definition. The law does not provide for a mechanism to determine statelessness, but it does provide for some rights to be granted to ‘stateless status’ holders ‘as determined by the competent authorities’, including the right to apply for residence on humanitarian grounds, state social services, education, legal aid, representation before the courts, and a travel document. However, these rights are very difficult to access in practice as they require a formal procedure and identification documents. There is a facilitated route to naturalisation for stateless people in Albania, including a reduced residence period and exemption from the minimum age, income, property ownership, and no convictions requirements, as well as the language test.

  • There is a definition in national law, which states that a stateless person is 'a person who is not a national of any State'. This differs from the formulation in the Convention which specifies ‘under the operation of its law'.
  • There is no formal dedicated training on statelessness for government bodies.
  • The NGO TLAS has provided regular training for authorities supported by international donors including ENS, UNHCR, US Embassy.
  • No training on statelessness has ever been delivered by the School of Magistrates nor the School of Advocates and this is not part of the curricula.
  • Albanian law does not provide for a mechanism to identify or determine statelessness, and there is no law on statelessness, but there is the possibility to issue a travel document or a residence permit to ‘stateless status’ holders who are 'determined by the competent authorities'.
  • Certain rights of stateless persons are recognised in law, for example, the right to apply for residence on humanitarian grounds, state social services, education, legal aid and representation before the courts, but these are very difficult to access in practice as they require a formal procedure and identification documents.
  • Albanian law provides for the possibility to issue a travel document or a residence permit to stateless status holders who are 'determined by the competent authorities' but there is no clear mechanism for this, and rights are very difficult to access in practice as they require a formal procedure and identification documents.
  • Certain rights are recognised to stateless people in law, for example, the right to apply for residence on humanitarian grounds, state social services, education, work, legal aid and representation before the courts.
  • Only Albanian nationals may vote in elections.
  • Stateless people may naturalise after seven years’ legal residence in Albania and are exempt from certain requirements for naturalisation including minimum age, income, and property ownership, the requirements to have no convictions, and the language test.
  • There is no stipulation for a fee in law, but applicants pay approximately 50 EUR fee and stateless persons are not exempt.

Detention

Analyses law, policy and practice relating to immigration detention generally, but focusing on protections in place to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people during removal and deportation procedures. Subthemes examine areas such as detention decision-making, how alternatives to detention are legislated for and implemented, procedural safeguards such as time limits, judicial oversight, and effective remedies, as well as protections on release.

There are limited safeguards to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Albania. Positively, a country of removal should be identified prior to issuing a deportation order and detention decision, but statelessness is not proactively identified in detention decisions nor vulnerability assessments. There is no evidence of stateless people being routinely detained but given the lack of a statelessness determination procedure, it is possible that some stateless people are detained in practice. The law allows for alternative measures to be applied but it is not a requirement to exhaust all alternatives prior to detention. Some limited procedural safeguards are in place, but there are barriers to effective remedies and obstacles to acquiring legal aid. People released from detention are not issued with any documentation nor protected from re-detention.

  • Powers to detain are provided for in law and comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • A country of removal should be identified before issuing a deportation order and detention measures are applied as a consequence of this.
  • Statelessness is not identified in detention decisions, there is no statelessness determination procedure, and the authorities rely on the documentation held by the individual.
  • There is no evidence of stateless people being detained but given the lack of a procedure and relevance given to statelessness, it is possible that some stateless people are detained in practice.
  • The law does not explicitly state that detention must only be used as a last resort, and practice is unclear, though the law allows for alternative measures to be put in place following the issuing of a deportation order.
  • Vulnerability must be taken into account in the detention decision, but statelessness is not explicitly considered as a factor increasing vulnerability and there are no legal provisions on how an assessment of vulnerability should be carried out.
  • The law allows for alternative measures to be put in place following the issuing of a deportation order, but practice is unclear, and it is not an explicit requirement that all alternatives be exhausted prior to detention being implemented.
  • A time limit is set in law (six months), which can be extended for up to another six months if removal has been impossible due to the individual's refusal to provide information; the individual preventing or blocking return; or justified delay in issuing a travel document by another State. The obligation to provide proof of identity and inability to do so lies with the applicant in practice so detention periods are often extended beyond six months.
  • The law states that detainees must be notified in writing in a language they understand (or at least in English) of the reasons for the deportation order being issued and measures to be taken to implement this.
  • The law states that detainees must be informed in a language they understand (or at least English) of rights and obligations. They have the right to humane treatment, adequate food, legal assistance, healthcare, consular representation, and appeal. However, Albania has received recommendations from the Council of Europe Committee on the Prevention of Torture and the Ombudsperson regarding inadequate information provision for detainees.
  • There are no periodic ex officio reviews of detention before an independent body.
  • Detainees may appeal the detention order before the courts at any time, but practical obstacles to this have been highlighted by the Ombudsperson (including lack of access to legal aid, information, and rights in detention).
  • No rules are in place governing the process of redocumentation and ascertaining entitlement to nationality.
  • There is no access to legal aid for persons staying irregularly on the territory of Albania. Stateless people have access to legal aid by law, but in practice, as there is no SDP to determine who is stateless, there are obstacles to enjoying this right.
  • There is no protection from re-detention and people are not issued with documentation or residence status on release.
  • There is no provision for the cumulative time spent in detention to count towards the maximum time limit.
  • Statelessness is not considered in return or readmission agreements and no information is available as to whether stateless people have been subject to such agreements.

Prevention and Reduction

Assesses the adequacy of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness, including protections for otherwise stateless children born on the territory or to nationals abroad, foundlings and adopted children. Examines law, policy, and practice on birth registration, including access to late birth registration, reduction measures taken by states to prevent and reduce statelessness among groups at high risk, and provisions for the deprivation of nationality.

Amendments to Albanian nationality law in 2020 introduced a safeguard for otherwise stateless children born on the territory, complementing the existing safeguard for foundlings. The new safeguard is automatic, but it remains to be seen how it will be implemented in practice. Safeguards are also in place to prevent statelessness arising during adoption procedures. Children born to Albanian nationals abroad acquire nationality, but it is unclear what rights same-sex parents would have to confer nationality to a child. Albania has pledged to address remaining gaps in the legal framework and has taken recent steps to prevent and reduce the risk of statelessness. However, children may still face a risk of statelessness  if parents are undocumented or have irregularities in their documentation, particularly if born abroad. There is evidence that Romani and Egyptian communities are disproportionately impacted. 2020 amendments to the nationality law also introduced new powers to deprive naturalised Albanians of their nationality on national security grounds (not where it would lead to statelessness), and removed an additional safeguard to prevent statelessness arising through renunciation of nationality.

  • Albanian nationality law was amended in 2020 to introduce a safeguard to enable children born on the territory ‘who may remain stateless’ to acquire Albanian nationality.
  • The provision is automatic once it is proven from the birth notification certificate at registration that the child was born on the territory and  ‘may remain stateless’. It is not yet clear how the provision will be implemented in practice and how the child’s statelessness will need to be proven.
  • Foundlings acquire Albanian nationality automatically by law and there is no age limit.
  • Albanian nationality cannot be withdrawn if this leads to statelessness.
  • A child adopted by foreign parents loses their Albanian nationality, but only after they acquire the nationality of a foreign parent.
  • A child adopted by Albanian nationals acquires nationality automatically upon adoption and there is a safeguard against statelessness.
  • All children born to at least one Albanian parent automatically acquire Albanian nationality.
  • There are no discriminatory conditions relating to birth in or out of wedlock, nor to a man or woman, but same-sex partnerships are not legally recognised in Albania so it is unclear what rights same-sex parents would have to confer nationality to a child.
  • The law states that the child has the right to be registered for free, immediately after birth, and to acquire a nationality, and that all children born in a health setting or elsewhere must be documented. If the fact of birth has not been certified by an appropriate official and a medical report drawn up, it must be proven through the court.
  • The nationality of the child is determined and recorded upon birth registration. If the parents are Albanian nationals their nationality is confirmed in the electronic register of all nationals and automatically attributed to the child. If the parents are foreign nationals with legal residency in Albania, their residency is verified, and the child is granted either Albanian nationality or the nationality of the parent/s at their will. If the parent/s are undocumented, refugees and residing without a legal status in Albania or stateless, the child will be registered based on the declaration of the parent/s. This is not regulated in law, but general rules apply, and this is confirmed by practice to date.
  • There is no legal provision to regulate determination of nationality after birth registration, but general rules relating to correction of errors in the National Register apply.
  • In practice children face difficulties if parents are undocumented or have irregularities in their documentation, particularly those born abroad to Albanian parents with irregular documentation. There are credible reports that suggest some children face barriers to birth registration, in particular among Romani and Egyptian communities, although recent amendments have been made to the law in an effort to address these.
  • There is no specific provision in force requiring health or civil registry authorities to share information with immigration authorities, but there is also no ban on this happening in law or practice.
  • Late registration is possible in law and practice and early registration within the deadline of 60 days is incentivised (through monetary compensation). Unregistered births are flagged to the child protection unit for mandatory ex officio registration. There are no additional requirements.
  • Civil society supported by international organisations have campaigned for improvements to birth registration, and government agencies have generally been receptive to this.
  • Recent amendments were made to the law on civil status to address the issues highlighted under birth registration.
  • Romani communities in Albania are disproportionately affected by the risk of statelessness - reports have recommended changes and the Government has addressed many of these in recent law changes.
  • The Albanian Government made several pledges at the UNHCR High-Level Segment on Statelessness in October 2019 to address remaining gaps in the legal framework, including to amend the nationality law, implement civil status changes, and introduce an SDP.
  • Amendments introduced to the nationality law in 2020 improve safeguards to prevent childhood statelessness among children born on the territory.
  • There are provisions on deprivation and renunciation of nationality that could lead to statelessness in some cases.
  • A decision to grant nationality may be revoked if it was acquired by fraud, even if this results in statelessness. There is a safeguard to prevent statelessness for children, but not for adults.
  • New provisions for deprivation of nationality on national security grounds were introduced in 2020, which are discriminatory in nature as they apply only to naturalised Albanians. However, these provisions do not apply if they would lead to statelessness.
  • The competent authority to decide on deprivation cases is the President, based on information provided by law enforcement or after a conviction by a court. 2020 amendments introduced the possibility to appeal against a Presidential Decree on deprivation of nationality, but the deprivation order is effective as of the moment it is communicated to the person or published in the Official Gazette. It is not clear whether deprivation provisions are implemented in practice.
  • There is a partial safeguard to prevent statelessness occurring through voluntary renunciation. If a person has renounced Albanian nationality to acquire another and the promised nationality is not acquired within a reasonable time, they reacquire Albanian nationality, under certain conditions.

Resources

Library of resources, legal instruments, publications and training materials on statelessness, specifically relevant to this country. More regional and international materials, as well as resources from other countries, are available on the Resources library. Domestic case law can be consulted in the Statelessness Case Law Database (with summaries available in English).

Please note that we are in the process of adding new resources, so check back soon.

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