Albania

In June 2023, the Government published a dedicated instruction to implement and regulate the statelessness determination procedure (SDP), which had been adopted 2021. This is a positive step towards the protection of stateless people in Albania, but the implementation of this instruction needs to be monitored as uncertainties remain.

Positively, the instruction sets a maximum time limit of 180 days for a decision to be made (with a possible three-month extension), and the competent authority must certify acceptance of an application for the SDP. It provides that country-of-origin information is to be gathered on the political, economic, social, and human rights situation of the relevant country, and foresees a process of verification and information gathering from foreign authorities and international organisations. It also provides that if the applicant also applied for asylum then the SDP is suspended, with the applicant’s approval. There is a right of appeal before the court.

However, uncertainties and gaps in protection remain. Applicants are required to provide many documents in their application, but the instruction is not clear as to the consequences of not attaching some documents, including when the applicant may have difficulties in obtaining them. While UNHCR may be present during the interviews, the instruction does not specify who decides on their presence. Applicants may also face barriers to accessing legal aid. There is no information available yet about the implementation of the SDP in practice.

The information below was last updated in January 2023. A full update to this page will be available in 2024.

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. The new Law on Foreigners, which entered into force in November 2021, established a statelessness determination procedure and provides for the issuance of a dedicated instruction to implement and regulate the procedure, but this has not yet been approved and therefore details are not yet clarified. Some rights were already 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.

Since 2020, the law ensures that children born stateless on the territory, foundlings, adopted children and most children born to nationals abroad acquire Albanian nationality. There have been 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. Same-sex marriages are not recognised, and children of same-sex parents may not be able to have both parents listed on their birth certificates. In a case currently pending appeal, the civil registry refused the registration of children recognising same sex mothers with equal rights.

New powers were introduced in 2020 to deprive naturalised Albanians of their nationality on national security grounds, but there are sufficient safeguards to prevent this resulting in statelessness.

Zuletzt aktualisiert: 
Jan. 2023
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ZUSÄTZLICHE INFORMATIONEN

-Rechtsgrundlagen und bewährte Verfahren

 

Internationale und regionale Instrumente

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.

Statistiken zur staatenlosen Bevölkerung

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. The next census is scheduled to be held in 2023.
  • In 2011, 7,443 stateless people were identified in the census (3,874 men and 3,569 women).
  • A mapping study, which included children at risk of statelessness, was carried out by UNHCR and TLAS in 2018 and identified 1,031 people at risk of statelessness.
  • A new tool was introduced in 2018 to aid identification and tracking of people at risk of statelessness by civil registration authorities. However, there are indications it is not being used to its full potential and only a few offices have recorded data with it so far. There is no 'stateless' category in asylum and immigration data.
  • No information is available on stateless people held in immigration detention - 'stateless' is not a category in detention data published by the authorities.

Verfahren zur Feststellung von Staatenlosigkeit und Rechtsstellung

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 statelessness 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. Assesses whether stateless people fleeing war have access to temporary protection.

There is a definition of a stateless person in Albanian law, but it is narrower than the 1954 Convention definition. A 2021 law introduced a statelessness determination procedure, but it is not yet operational. Pre-existing law provides for some rights to be granted to ‘statelessness 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 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.
  • A new Law on Foreigners, which entered into force in November 2021, introduced a statelessness determination procedure (SDP) for the first time. It stipulates that the procedure for the application, evaluation, approval, and rejection of a request for recognition of statelessness status shall be regulated through an instruction issued by the responsible Minister for Public Order and Safety. As of December 2022, this instruction has not yet been approved, so the new SDP is not yet operational.

 

The information below provides an overview of the features of the statelessness determination procedure as established in the Law on Foreigners, but no scoring is provided given the lack of clarity about how the SDP will be implemented.

  • The Law on Foreigners stipulates that the request to determine whether the applicant is a stateless person should be submitted to the responsible authority in the Ministry for Public Order and Security, but it does not indicate the specific authority.
  • The law does not stipulate lawful stay as a requirement to access the SDP. However, it states that a request cannot be submitted by a person who has submitted a request for international protection, been recognised as a refugee, or been granted asylum, subsidiary protection, or another form of protection under the Law on Asylum.
  • The instruction required to operationalise the SDP has not yet been approved, therefore it is unclear how it will be implemented.
Beurteilung
Not available
  • The instruction required to operationalise the SDP has not yet been approved, therefore it is unclear how it will be implemented.
  • The instruction required to operationalise the SDP has not yet been approved, therefore it is unclear how it will be implemented.
  • According to the Law on Legal Aid, stateless people who are residing legally or have entered Albania legally are entitled to State-funded legal aid. It is not yet clear if stateless people who don’t meet this requirement will have access to legal aid in the SDP and which obstacles they may face.
  • The instruction required to operationalise the SDP has not yet been approved, therefore it is unclear how it will be implemented.
  • However, the Law on Foreigners limits detention in a closed centre to foreigners subject to a deportation order, and alternatives to detention have priority, so there should not be a risk of detention for a stateless person who is not subject to a deportation order.
Beschwerden
Not available
  • The instruction required to operationalise the SDP has not yet been approved, therefore it is unclear how it will be implemented.
  • According to the Law on Foreigners, a stateless person may receive a residence permit on humanitarian grounds if they are stateless and have received statelessness status under the SDP.
  • The central authority for borders and migration should also issue a travel document, valid for two years, to a stateless person residing in Albania. However, there is no evidence to suggest that in practice stateless people are issued with a travel document and/or allowed to leave the country.
  • Everyone in Albania is entitled under the Constitution to work and access education, and under the Law on State Social Services to access healthcare and welfare benefits. 
  • As the instruction required to operationalise the SDP has not yet been approved, it is still unclear what other rights will result from the determination of statelessness.
  • The Council of Ministers approved on 18 March 2022 a decision to provide temporary protection for Ukrainian nationals, stateless people, and people who had international protection status in Ukraine, with temporary or permanent residence in Ukraine.
  • Temporary protection is granted as of the moment the person enters Albania for a term of one year. It may be extended for another six months by the Council of Ministers, but as of February 2023 that decision has not yet been made.
  • Beneficiaries of temporary protection may apply for asylum, but examination of the application for international protection only starts upon expiry of their temporary protection.
  • Beneficiaries of temporary protection have the right to remain, to basic accommodation, healthcare, pre-university education, work, vocational training, legal aid, and family reunification (under certain conditions).

Haft

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 the identification of statelessness and assessment of whether there is a reasonable prospect of removal, procedural safeguards such as time limits, judicial oversight, and effective remedies, as well as the rights granted to stateless people upon release from detention and protection against re-detention.

There are limited safeguards to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Albania. A country of removal is not always identified prior to issuing a deportation order and detention decision, and 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 functional statelessness determination procedure, it is possible that some stateless people are detained in practice. Detention should be used as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible, and the law allows for alternative measures to be considered prior to detention following the issuance of a deportation order.

Some limited procedural safeguards are in place, but there are barriers to effective remedies and obstacles to accessing 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 are applied in practice.
  • The law foresees that in case a person becomes subject to deportation by the authority responsible for border and migration, detention in a closed centre is the last administrative measure taken and only when all possible alternative measures have been exhausted, or when the assessment considers that these measures cannot be applied based on readmission agreements in force. Detention should be used as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible.
  • The law states that a person may be detained for public security reasons if their identity or reasons for staying in Albania are unclear, which may pose a heightened risk for stateless people. However, there is no evidence of this occurring in practice.
  • Except in cases of readmission, there is no clear obligation for authorities to identify a country of removal before issuing a deportation order and detention measures are applied as a consequence.
  • There is no clear obligation to release a person when there is no reasonable prospect of removal, however the law stipulates that the authority responsible for border and migration may decide to replace the detention measure with appropriate temporary measures.
  • There is no evidence of stateless people being detained, but given the lack of a functional procedure and relevance given to statelessness, it is possible that some stateless people are detained in practice.
  • Statelessness is not considered in detention decisions, the statelessness determination procedure is not yet operational, and the authorities rely on the documentation held by the individual.
  • The law provides a definition of a vulnerable person, but it does not include stateless people.
  • 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.
  • A time limit on immigration detention 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. There is no provision for the cumulative time spent in detention to count towards the maximum time limit.
  • 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).
  • Stateless people have access to legal aid by law, but in practice, there are obstacles to enjoying this right. In general, there is no access to legal aid for people staying irregularly on the territory of Albania.
  • 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, as well as their rights and obligations. Detainees 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.
  • No rules are in place governing the process of redocumentation and ascertaining entitlement to nationality.
  • 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.

Prävention und Reduktion

Assesses the adequacy of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness, including facilitated routes to naturalisation for stateless people, and 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, and reduction measures taken by States to prevent and reduce in situ statelessness. Analyses provisions on deprivation of nationality and whether there are safeguards related to renunciation and deprivation of nationality to prevent statelessness from occurring.

There is a facilitated route to naturalisation for stateless people in Albania, including a reduced residence period and exemption from the minimum age, income requirements, property ownership requirements, as well as the language test. However, stateless persons are not exempt from good character requirements and must pay a fee to naturalise.

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. Safeguards are also in place to prevent statelessness arising during adoption procedures. Children born to Albanian nationals abroad acquire nationality. Same-sex marriages are not recognised and birth registrars will not list two same-sex parents on a child’s birth certificate. It is unclear what rights same-sex parents 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.

Amendments to the nationality law in 2020 also introduced new powers to deprive naturalised Albanians of their nationality on national security grounds (but not where it would lead to statelessness), and removed an additional safeguard to prevent statelessness arising through renunciation of nationality.

  • Stateless people may naturalise after if they have resided for a continuous period of not less than seven years on the territory of Albania and have been granted a permanent residence permit (valid at the time of application). Stateless people are exempt from certain general requirements for naturalisation including minimum age, income, and property ownership, and the language test. They must not have been convicted by a final court decision in any country for criminal offences for which Albanian law provides a sentence of not less than three years of imprisonment, except if the sentence was for political motives. Stateless people also must not pose a threat to public order and national security of the Republic of Albania.
  • There is no stipulation for a fee in law, but applicants pay an approximately 90 EUR fee and stateless people are not exempt.
  • 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’. These facts are proven by the birth notification certificate and the child is registered immediately. There is not a specific mandatory obligation in law to inform parents about nationality rights, but in practice, parents will usually be informed verbally at the civil status office if there is a nationality issue for their child.
  • Foundlings acquire Albanian nationality automatically by law and there is no age limit.
  • Albanian nationality cannot be withdrawn if this leads to statelessness.
  • An Albanian 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, or 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.
  • The Albanian legal framework does not provide for the recognition of same-sex marriages nor the parenthood of same-sex parents. There are reports of registrars not recording two parents of the same sex in the birth certificate. A case about the refusal to register the children of two mothers by the authorities is currently before the courts, and was pending before Administrative Court of Appeal as of October 2022.
  • 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 organisations, 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 some of the issues relating to birth registration.
  • Romani communities in Albania are disproportionately affected by the risk of statelessness.  The Government has addressed many of the recommendations made to address this in recent legislative 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.
  • The law stipulates that loss of Albanian nationality as a result of deprivation does not affect the nationality of the minor child/ren of the person deprived, but it does not mention spouses.

Ressourcen

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.

Council of Europe - European Convention on Nationality (Nov. 1997)
United Nations - Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (Jan. 1961)

European Network on Statelessness - Statelessness determination and protection in Europe (Sep 2021)
The European Network on Statelessness - Submission to inform the European Commission 2023 Enlargement Package (Apr. 2023)

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