Croatia is State Party to two of the core statelessness instruments, the 1954 Convention and the 1961 Convention, but it has not acceded to the relevant Council of Europe conventions. Some limited data is available on the stateless population in Croatia, but figures are mostly out of date or estimates. A census was carried out in 2021, which included the categories ‘stateless’ and ‘unknown citizenship’ disaggregated by place of residence, but these categories were not defined in the census methodology. There is a definition of a stateless person in Croatian law, but there is no dedicated procedure to determine statelessness and grant stateless people adequate protection under the 1954 Convention. Statelessness may be identified and assessed on an ad hoc basis within other procedures, but no rights are granted based on statelessness, except for a travel document, and there is no facilitated route to naturalisation for stateless people in Croatia.
There are some limited protections against the arbitrary detention of stateless people, but NGOs report widespread detention at the border without adequate due process or individual assessments. There are some safeguards to prevent and reduce statelessness in Croatian law, but these are not in line with 1961 Convention standards, and there are important gaps. Although there is a partial safeguard to prevent statelessness for some children born stateless in Croatia, authorities do not apply it in practice. The law provides that all children born in Croatia are registered at birth, but there are discriminatory practices, which create obstacles for some children. There are no legal provisions for the deprivation of nationality that permit a person to be rendered stateless, but some cases have been reported in practice, which resulted in statelessness. There are no safeguards to prevent derivative loss of nationality.
Nataša Kovačević, Information Legal Centre