The Index update shows little progress on the part of the UK Government towards addressing the key gaps in law, policy and practice highlighted in March 2018.
Last year, the Index showed that, although the UK is party to relevant human rights treaties, has some safeguards in law to prevent statelessness, and provides protection to some stateless people in the country, several key issues remain. It is yet to accede to the European Convention on Nationality, does not fully safeguard against arbitrary detention, and operates exclusion criteria that go beyond the 1954 Convention. In addition, there are obstacles in the statelessness determination procedure that limit access to protection, including a high standard of proof and limited legal aid, limited appeal rights, and lack of protection. UK civil society has stepped up its campaigning in 2018 on two key issues of relevance: the prohibitively high fees for children (including stateless children) to register as British citizens, and the lack of a time limit on immigration detention; but reform is yet to be seen.
Some small but welcome advances in the rights of stateless people in the UK have been achieved this year. In March 2019, the UK Government announced a change to the Immigration Rules to increase the initial length of leave to remain as a stateless person to five years (from 30 months); and the English, Welsh and Scottish Governments amended regulations in 2018 to facilitate access to higher education for stateless people and their families. Other new information now available in the Index includes updated population data, links to new articles, policy guidance and caselaw, and comparative information on provisions for withdrawal of nationality, where the UK is again assessed negatively against international norms and good practice.
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