Update from June 2022:
A new population census was carried out in the Czech Republic in 2021. The census included a nationality category ‘not identified’ (29,137 people) but no longer included the category ‘no citizenship’, which had been in the last census. The Czech Statistical Office and Ministry of the Interior publish disaggregated data under the combined nationality categories 'stateless', 'not identified', and 'other' annually. At the end of 2020, it reported 719 people in this combined category (which excludes people granted asylum).
Until 2021, determination of statelessness was addressed in the Asylum Act. Between 2019 and 2021, jurisprudence conferred by analogy the same rights that asylum-seekers had to applicants for statelessness determination. On 2 August 2021, an amendment to the Act on Residence of Foreign Nationals entered into force, moving the possibility to determine statelessness to the Immigration Act, making it more difficult for stateless people to have their status recognised. The new procedure is very unclear. There are no provisions to regulate the status of stateless applicants, nor procedural safeguards, and the right to remain on the territory is not guaranteed. A judgment of the Prague Administrative Court from January 2022 reiterated the need to preserve the analogy with the asylum procedure, regardless of whether the statelessness procedure is formally regulated under the Asylum Act or the Immigration Act.
The new Immigration Act provides that a person recognised as stateless will be granted a tolerated stay visa for one year. The visa is renewable after one year for a long-term stay for the purpose of tolerated stay on the territory (two years renewable). After five years in total, the person can apply for permanent residence.
New resources on the Czech Republic now available include:
- 2021 Statelessness Index Survey
- Statelessness Index News, New Legal Amendment Reduces the Rights of Stateless people in the Czech Republic (September 2021)
- Country briefing on access to protection for stateless refugees from Ukraine in the Czech Republic (May 2022)
- Joint submission on the Czech Republic to the 42nd Session of the Universal Periodic Review (July 2022)
- Municipal Court Prague, Nr. 10 A 98/2021-45 (January 2022)
The legal and policy framework in the Czech Republic has some positive aspects and some significant gaps. The Czech Republic is party to most relevant international and regional instruments, including three of the four core statelessness conventions (although with some important reservations to the 1954 Convention). Some data on the stateless population in the country is available, but it is limited to those legally residing in the country.
The Czech Republic does not have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure. Since 2019 the Ministry of Interior has issued decisions confirming statelessness under the 1954 Convention and until 2021, jurisprudence conferred by analogy the same rights that asylum-seekers had to applicants for statelessness determination. However, in August 2021, a legal amendment moved the possibility to determine statelessness to the Immigration Act, making it more difficult for stateless people to have their status recognised. There are no provisions to regulate the status of stateless applicants, nor procedural safeguards, and the right to remain on the territory is not guaranteed. A recognised stateless person will be granted a renewable ‘tolerated stay’ visa for one year. There are also gaps in the legal framework to protect stateless people from arbitrary immigration detention, as a country of removal does not need to be established prior to detention, statelessness is not routinely identified in detention decision-making, and, although there are some procedural safeguards, there is no periodic review of detention unless requested by the person detained.
A partial safeguard is in place to prevent children being born stateless in the Czech Republic, but this depends on the actions or status of parents. Provisions protect the right to nationality for foundlings, children born to refugees, and adopted children. Births must be registered, and birth certificates issued to all children. Documentation requirements can be waived in certain circumstances and there are mechanisms in place to determine the child’s nationality. Positively, there are no legal powers for the authorities to deprive someone of Czech nationality, no provisions for automatic loss, and safeguards are in place to prevent statelessness in cases of voluntary renunciation.
Information below by theme was last updated in March 2021.
Aneta Šubrtová & Hana Franková, Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU)