Hungary is one of few countries to have acceded to all four core statelessness conventions. Although this has translated into some positive law, policy and practice at national level, there remain some significant gaps and the stateless population has never been comprehensively mapped. A statelessness determination procedure is established in law, and access, assessment, procedural protections and appeal rights under the procedure are generally positive. However, the definition of a stateless person in national law is narrower than the 1954 Convention, applicants under the procedure lack protection from detention and removal, and the law provides only limited rights to people recognised as stateless. Access to citizenship, although provided for in law, is very difficult to acquire in practice leaving most stateless people in the country unable to acquire a nationality even in the long term.
There are limited protections against the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Hungary and what limited procedural safeguards are in place have been deemed insufficient by various national and international actors. Safeguards exist in nationality law to prevent statelessness in the case of foundlings, children born abroad to Hungarian nationals, and in cases of withdrawal of nationality. However, there are only partial safeguards to prevent children from being born stateless on the territory, adopted children may be stateless unless and until they acquire citizenship through naturalisation, and although births will be registered regardless of parents’ status, officials will register a child as having ‘unknown nationality’ unless this can be proven otherwise, causing significant problems for children later in life.
Gábor Gyulai, Hungarian Helsinki Committee