Sudita Keita v Hungary: Difficulties to regularise status and adverse repercussions on private life amounts to Article 8 violation

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

On 12 May 2020, the European Court of Human Rights published its decision on the case Sudita Keita v. Hungary (Application No. 42321/15) concerning a stateless individual’s protracted difficulty to regularise their status in Hungary.

The applicant, who is of Somali and Nigerian origin, arrived in Hungary in 2002. After his asylum application was rejected, he continued to live in Hungary without a regular legal status. The applicant could not be returned to Somalia due to the ongoing civil war, and the Nigerian embassy had refused to recognise him as a citizen. The applicant applied for stateless status, which was initially refused due to Hungarian law requiring as a precondition the “lawful stay in the country”. This requirement was later declared unlawful by the Constitutional Court in 2015, and the applicant was recognised as a stateless person in October 2017. The applicant complained to the ECtHR that as a result of the challenges to regularise his status in the first fifteen years in Hungary, there were adverse repercussions on his enjoyment in respect of private and family life, including his ability to access health care and employment opportunities, and ability to marry.

The Court highlighted that the applicant's complaint was related not to the impossibility to obtain stateless status but rather the general impossibility of regularising his status in Hungary, which prevented him from living a normal private life for a fifteen-year-long period. As such, the applicant was deprived of basic entitlements to healthcare and employment.
It added that, for the recognition of the stateless status, the applicant was asked to meet requirements which were essentially impossible due to the condition as stateless person itself, contrary to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Statelessness of Persons. As a consequence, the Court was not satisfied that the State had complied with its positive obligation to provide an effective and accessible procedure, or combination of procedures, enabling the applicant to determine his status with due regard to his private-life interests, contrary to Article 8 ECHR.

Photo: Outlandos [ym], February 2016, Flickr (CC). Thank you to Francesca Zalambani, Legal Assistant at ECRE, for assisting us with the summary.

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.                               

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