Statelessness Index reveals poland can do more to identify and protect stateless people

28 Feb 2019 / Detention / International and Regional Instruments / Poland / Prevention and reduction / Statelessness determination and status / Statelessness population data

In order to highlight the key findings of the Poland country profile on the Statelessness Index - an online tool which allows instant comparison of how different countries protect people without a nationality – the European Network on Statelessness has worked with its partner Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center to develop a Poland country briefing.

The Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center, (HNLAC) is a non-governmental organization based in Kraków which works to protect human rights by providing free legal aid to individuals at risk of social exclusion and discrimination. The HNLAC also monitors adherence to standards of human rights, undertakes legal interventions and advocacy activities, and pursues research and educational projects.

The Poland country briefing summarises how Polish law, policy and practice performs against international norms and good practice on the protection of stateless persons and the prevention and reduction of statelessness and provides a series of recommendations to the Polish government for reform in priority areas. The briefing is available in English and Polish.

Summary of key findings and recommendations

Poland has not acceded to any of the four core statelessness conventions. Whilst the government publishes some disaggregated data on the number of stateless people in the Polish census, the lack of legal definition of a stateless person in Poland means that different, overlapping, terms and definitions are used by different government departments. Poland does not have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure, but statelessness can be identified through other administrative procedures. Stateless people face heightened risk of arbitrary detention in Poland, with no requirement for a country of removal to be set prior to ordering detention, and no provision for establishing statelessness as a juridically relevant fact in decisions to detain. Efforts to prevent and reduce statelessness in Poland are mixed, with partial safeguards in law to prevent statelessness. However, the existing safeguard only applies to children born in Poland to stateless or unknown parents. Children born abroad to same-sex parents face discriminatory practice by the Polish authorities that may prevent the child acquiring a Polish passport or documentation in practice.

The briefing provides a number of recommendations to the Polish government to overcome these barriers, including acceding to the core statelessness conventions and improving the recording of statelessness through harmonising and defining statistical categories used by different government agencies. It advises establishing a statelessness determination procedure and protection status in line with international norms and good practice and ensuring there are clear referral routes to this procedure to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention. To further improve the prevention and reduction of statelessness, the briefing recommends amending the Act on Polish Citizenship so that all children who would otherwise be stateless can automatically acquire Polish nationality at birth, regardless of the status of the parents, as well as taking steps to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices towards same-sex partnerships, to prevent statelessness among children born to same-sex parents.

The Polish Index data summarised in this briefing demonstrates that, whilst there are existing safeguards to prevent and reduce statelessness, there are further actions the Polish Government can take to effectively address the protection of stateless people and prevent and reduce instances of statelessness.

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