CCPR: The Committee finds violation of stateless child’s rights

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Committee on Civil and Political Rights recently published its views in D.Z. v the Netherlands (communication CCPR/C/130/D/2918/2016).
The author, D.Z, was born on 18 February 2010 in the Netherlands and his nationality was indicated as ‘unknown’ in the municipal records. He complains that leaving him with no avenue to acquire a nationality the Netherlands have violated his rights under article 24 read alone and in conjunction with article 2(2) and (3) CCPR.
D.Z.’s mother was born in China however her birth was not registered on any civil registry. A year later, when her brother was born, her parents abandoned her. In 2004, at the age of 15, she was trafficked to the Netherlands but managed to escape upon her arrival in Amsterdam. She applied for asylum but was rejected. Later when D.Z was born, he was registered as holding “unknown nationality” as his mother had provided no proof of his nationality. D.Z’s mother made several attempts to obtain or confirm her Chinese nationality which were ultimately futile. Despite years of efforts, the local municipality rejected D.Z’s mother’s request to change her son’s registered nationality to “stateless” so that he could avail of the international protections afforded to stateless children. A further administrative appeal was also rejected on the ground that there was no proof of D.Z.’s statelessness, such as official documents. D.Z later appealed to the Council of State which also upheld the decision of the municipality but acknowledged that the lack of a status determination procedure meant that individuals entitled to protection, including children were falling through a gap in legislation. The Council of State nevertheless concluded that it was for the legislature to provide a remedy in that regard.
In its assessment, the Committee noted that D.Z.’s mother had contacted the Chinese authorities several times without success to confirm whether she and her son were considered Chinese nationals. It noted that in the decisions of the domestic authorities to reject the author’s mother’s request to register the author as stateless, no further steps that could be taken to obtain official documents concerning D.Z.’s nationality status from the Chinese authorities were outlined to her. It also highlighted that the national authorities made no inquiries of their own in order to attempt to confirm the D.Z.’s nationality status or lack thereof. Moreover, it pointed to the Council of State’s acknowledgment of the consequences of the gaps in legislation. Finally, it pointed to the State party’s declaration acknowledging that D.Z was unable to exercise his rights as a minor to acquire nationality. In that regard, the Committee concluded that the facts before it amounted to a violation of article 24(3) CCPR. Further, it held that the failure to provide the author with an effective remedy amounted to a violation of the author’s rights under article 24 (3) in conjunction with article 2 (3) CCPR. Two additional concurring opinions were also issued.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Best interest of the child