Moldova shows good practice on statelessness determination with improvement needed in other areas

4 Feb 2019 / Detention / International and Regional Instruments / Moldova / Prevention and reduction / Statelessness determination and status / Statelessness population data
source: Guttorm Flatabø_

Previously, there was no tool available to facilitate comparison between how different European countries protect stateless people and work to prevent and reduce statelessness. Since 2017, the European Network on Statelessness has worked with its members to address this gap by partnering on our Statelessness Index. ENS member and Moldova-based non-governmental organisation Law Centre of Advocates (LCA) partnered with ENS to develop a Moldova country profile for the Index. LCA implement projects and programs aimed at promoting the Rule of Law, judicial independence and respect for human rights in Moldova. It offers legal assistance to all refugees, asylum seekers, beneficiaries of humanitarian protection and stateless persons.

A new country briefing developed by ENS and LCA highlights key findings from the Index data on how Moldovan law, policy and practice performs against international norms and good practice on the protection of stateless persons and the prevention and reduction of statelessness. It also makes recommendations to the Moldovan Government for improvement in priority areas. The briefing is available in both English and Romanian.

Summary of key findings and recommendations

Positively, Moldova is party to all relevant international and regional instruments, including the four core statelessness instruments. However, data on the stateless population in Moldova is limited and where official data is collected, there are issues with overlapping statistical categories and no data is available for the disputed Transnistrian region.

Moldova established a dedicated statelessness determination procedure in 2011, which in many ways is an example of good practice. For example, no fee or residence requirement makes it accessible. People recognized as stateless are granted permanent residence and rights (except political rights) in line with nationals. There are several gaps in detention law, policy and practice in Moldova, including no provision of information to detainees on their rights set in law.

Until recently, Moldovan law included full safeguards for all children who would otherwise be born stateless to automatically acquire nationality at birth. However, a recent law change means that at least one parent must have legal residence, allowing for the possibility of some children being born stateless in Moldova. The requirement for parents to be documented to register a birth also means some parents face barriers to accessing birth registration. Positively from 2018, civil status acts from the disputed Transnistrian territory are recognised by authorities, making it easier for children of parents of Transistrian origin to register their births and acquire Moldovan nationality.

The briefing makes recommendations to the Moldovan government to build on existing positive practices and address the remaining gaps in law, policy and practice related to statelessness. These include improving statelessness data, through defining and harmonising statistical categories used, as well as improving the existing SDP through ensuring state-funded legal aid for applicants is available in practice. It further recommends establishing alternatives to immigration detention and the provision of information to detainees on their rights in both law and practice. Finally, it recommends amending the law to remove all practical barriers to birth registration, so that all children can be registered immediately, regardless of their parent’s status.

By summarising the findings from the Statelessness Index data, the new Moldova country briefing shows that Moldova has examples of good practice regarding international and regional instruments and statelessness determination, but still requires improvement on statelessness population data, detention and the prevention and reduction of statelessness.  

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