The Republic of Macedonia’s legal framework enshrines some basic protections against arbitrary detention, and some safeguards to prevent and reduce statelessness. However, although it is state party to the 1954 Convention, there is no mechanism by which statelessness can be identified or determined, and no stateless protection status. The only routes to regularisation for a stateless person are to apply for temporary residence as a ‘foreigner’ at the discretion of the government or to apply for asylum, both providing only very limited rights. There are some protections in law from arbitrary detention, including the right to free legal aid and effective remedies to challenge detention, but people detained are often not made aware of their rights in practice.
There is a provision in law for children born on the territory to stateless parents or parents of unknown citizenship to automatically acquire Macedonian nationality, but this focuses on the status of the parents rather than the statelessness of the child, so does not prevent statelessness in all cases. There are safeguards in law to prevent statelessness among foundlings and children born to Macedonian nationals abroad. Although not set in law, there is good practice of protecting Macedonian children adopted abroad from statelessness. However, there remain significant barriers to universal birth registration. The country has received four Universal Periodic Review recommendations on this issue and there is strong evidence that Roma, Ashkaeli and Egyptian communities are disproportionately impacted.
Martina Smilevska-Kcheva, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association