The legal and policy framework in Albania has some positive aspects and some important gaps. Positively, Albania is state party to three of the four core statelessness conventions with no reservations, as well as all other relevant international instruments. Some data is available on the stateless and at-risk population from the census and a more recent mapping study, but there is no ‘stateless’ category in asylum and immigration data, including in relation to detention.
There is a definition of a stateless person in Albanian law, but it is narrower than the 1954 Convention definition. There is no statelessness determination procedure, but some rights are granted to stateless people by law, including the right to apply for residence on humanitarian grounds, legal aid, and a travel document. However, these are difficult to access as a formal procedure and identification documents are required. There is a facilitated route to naturalisation with a reduced residence period (although this was increased from five to seven years in 2020) and exemptions from some of the standard requirements. Some limited safeguards protect against the arbitrary detention of stateless people but there are barriers to effective remedies and legal aid, and people released from detention are not protected from re-detention.
With recent amendments, the law now ensures that children born stateless on the territory, foundlings, adopted children and most children born to nationals abroad acquire Albanian nationality. There have been recent measures to reduce the risk of statelessness and improve access to birth registration, but children still face difficulties if parents are undocumented or have irregularities in their documentation and Romani and Egyptian communities are disproportionately impacted. New powers were introduced in 2020 to deprive naturalised Albanians of their nationality on national security grounds, but there is a safeguard to prevent this resulting in statelessness.
Anisa Metalla, Tirana Legal Aid Society