Court name: High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court
Date of decision:

An Afghan national held in immigration detention brought a claim contending that the failure to provide access to free (publicly funded) initial immigration advice for immigration detainees held in prisons is discriminatory, as detainees held in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) have access to such advice instead. The High Court found that the difference in treatment between detainees in prisons and detainees in IRCs constituted unlawful discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), read in conjunction with Articles 2, 3, 5 and 8. The High Court rejected the argument that the difference in treatment was justified on the basis that the class of immigration detainees held in prisons is not relevant “other status” for Article 14 purposes, and found that detainees held in prisons are in a sufficiently analogous position to their counterparts held in IRCs to qualify for the same rights.

Court name: UK Supreme Court
Date of decision:

The appellant, a Rwandan national, was granted refugee status in the UK but was subsequently convicted of a number of offences. The Secretary of State for the Home Department has powers, under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to order the deportation of persons convicted of serious offences, which included an offence committed by the appellant. The Secretary of State ordered the appellant’s detention pending deportation and the appellant initially sought judicial review of the deportation order, only to then focus on the lawfulness of the detention. Following the decision in R (Draga) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 842, where the Court of Appeal ruled detention lawful even where based on an unlawful deportation order, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant’s substantive appeal. The Supreme Court overturned the decision.

Court name: England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division)
Date of decision:

The Home Office was not authorised to detain an individual subject to a deportation order for longer than the period reasonably required to “enable the machinery of deportation to be carried out”, nor for any other purpose.

The applicant, M.  Singh, applied for release from detention on the basis that he was being held unlawfully whilst his deportation was delayed. The judge found that the powers within the Immigration Act 1971 (the “1971 Act”) contained implied limitations, such that unless the Home Office could prove to the court, within three days following the hearing, that Mr Singh’s deportation was imminent, he should be released on the basis that the implied limitations on the exercise of the power to detain had not been complied with.

Court name: Penza Regional Court
Date of decision:

In July 2017, the applicant was punished with deportation from Russia for violating the rules of stay of foreign nationals and was placed in a detention centre for foreign nationals until execution of the deportation order. It was later found that the applicant had lost his Tajik citizenship and deportation to Tajikistan therefore became impossible. The applicant successfully challenged the decision on his deportation due to the impossibility of executing the deportation order, and was released from the detention centre.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: Ukraine
Date of decision:

The applicant was born in the Russian Federation and his birth was not duly registered. Lacking identity documents and unable to prove his nationality, he was detained in Ukraine for the purpose of expulsion. The Court held that the authorities did not act diligently when they waited almost eleven months to contact the Russian embassy and obtain documentation to evidence the applicant's Russian nationality, and failed to review the lawfulness of his detention and to provide an effective remedy, in violation of Articles 5(1), (4) and (5) ECHR.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
Date of decision:

This case concerns a stateless applicant born in the Tajikistan Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, who was arrested for homelessness in Russia. The District Court ruled that he had to be preventively detained until his expulsion to Tajikistan. Russia tried to obtain travel documentation for the applicant, overlooking the fact that the applicant was not a Tajik national and that Tajikistan had no legal obligation to admit him, resulting in his preventive detention for two years. The Court found a violation of Article 5 ECHR, as the applicant’s detention was not carried out in good faith due to the lack of a realistic prospect of his expulsion and the domestic authorities’ failure to conduct the proceedings with due diligence.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
Date of decision:

The applicants, a stateless Palestinian from Syria and two Syrian nationals, entered Russia in 2013 and were kept in a detention centre before their expulsion to Syria. The Court held that the Government’s actions breached the applicant’s rights provided under Articles 2 and 3. The Court also stated that Articles 5(4) and 5(1)(f) had been violated with regards to their detention. The Court also held that the restricted contact with their respective representatives had breached Article 34 of the Convention. 

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: Bulgaria
Date of decision:

A stateless person of Palestinian origin, born in Kuwait resided in Bulgaria with his two children who were born in Bulgaria and hold Bulgarian nationality. His permanent residence permit in Bulgaria was withdrawn on the grounds that he was engaged in alleged religious extremism, and he was detained and subsequently deported to Syria. The Court held that there had been a violation of Articles 5(§4), 8, and 13 ECHR as a result of the deportation. In this judgment, the Court outlines the procedural safeguards required by the ECHR in decisions to detain a person for the purposes of deportation, including where an allegation of a threat to national security is made. The guarantee of an effective remedy requires some form of adversarial proceedings, and that the competent independent appeals authority must be able to assess whether the conclusion that a person is a threat to national security, which justifies deportation, is arbitrary or unreasonable.

Court name: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione)
State: Italy
Date of decision:

The appellant faced deportation even though her stateless status was de facto recognised. For this reason, the appellant requested that the Justice of Peace’s decision be overturned, and for her stateless status to be recognised. The Supreme Court recognised the applicant’s stateless status and overruled the Justice of Peace’s decision.

Court name: Court of Appeal
State: Ireland
Date of decision:

This case concerned an appeal as to whether an applicant for subsidiary protection may be considered both as a national of a third country and a stateless person simultaneously under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 and the Qualification Directive. The Court held that a person who is a national of a state is not a stateless person and that such state or country is his country of origin in relation to which his application must be primarily decided.

Court name: Supreme Court
Date of decision:

The applicant, who is stateless, was fined for violating immigration rules, and an expulsion order was issued against him, with a detention in an immigration detention centre prior to the expulsion. The applicant appealed against the detention, but the Court found no reasons to question the lawfulness of detention, as the law allows to detain foreigners and stateless persons prior to their expulsion. 

Court name: Administrative Court of Luxembourg
State: Luxembourg
Date of decision:

The applicant originates from former Soviet Union, and has lived in Luxembourg since 2004, unsuccessfully applying for the recognition of a statelessness status on numerous occasions. His identity has never been confirmed, and there were doubts as to the credibility of his testimony stemming from his asylum procedures. The applicant claimed that after 15 years of inability to determine the country of destination for his removal the attempts at deportation should be terminated, and his statelessness recognised, especially considering his poor health condition. 

Court name: Gent Court of Appeal
State: Belgium
Date of decision:

The applicant was born in China and is of Tibetan origin. He fled China to Nepal, and then made his way to Belgium through India on a fake passport. His asylum applications failed, he has been detained with a view to deportation to China, but had been released due to the Chinese authorities not issuing the necessary documents. The applicant also unsuccessfully attempted to organise voluntary return through IOM, contacting authorities of China, India, and Nepal. These facts convinced the Court to recognise the applicant as stateless. 

Court name: Council of State of the Netherlands (Raad van State)
Date of decision:

The case concerns the prospect of deportation of a stateless Palestinian to Lebanon, and the justifiability of immigration detention. The Court ruled that because there is evidence that the Lebanese authorities are willing to issue laissez-passers to both documented and undocumented Palestinians, and the talks between the authorities of the Netherlands and Lebanon are pending, there is a prospect of deportation of the applicant, and the detention is therefore justified. 

Court name: Supreme Court
Date of decision:

The applicant faces imprisonment for presence in the Netherlands, after he has been informed that a "declaration of undesirability" has been issued against him. His statelessness claim fails in Court, as his statelessness cannot be plausibly assumed. However, the Court does find that the decision to detain has to be better motivated in light of the EU Returns Directive, ensuring that the processes prescribed by the Directive have been completed. 

Court name: High Court
State: Ireland
Date of decision:

This case concerns an applicant who sought to quash the decision of the respondent which refused to revoke a deportation order made in respect of the applicant. The respondent contended that the applicant had been untruthful throughout the asylum process about his nationality and was therefore not entitled to any relief, while the applicant contended that the applicant’s untruthfulness should not be a bar to relief as substantial grounds established that a real risk to the applicant's life or freedom was inevitable. The Court found in favour of the applicant and quashed the decision of the respondent refusing to revoke the deportation order.

Court name: Sofia City Administrative Court
State: Bulgaria
Date of decision:

The case concerns the appeal by the stateless person from Kuwait, Mr. Sager Al-Anezi, against the decision of the asylum authorities in Bulgaria to reject his application for international protection as manifestly unfounded under a fast-track procedure carried out while Mr.Al-Anezi was placed in detention for removal. By a final judgment, the Sofia City Administrative Court allowed the appeal of Mr. Al-Anezi. The court judgment contains inter alia detailed analysis on the significance of the right to nationality as a fundamental human right; the application of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to stateless persons and the situation of Bidoon in Kuwait.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
State: Bulgaria
Date of decision:

The case originated in an application against Bulgaria lodged by a stateless person of Palestinian origin. He had obtained subsidiary protection in Bulgaria, but was later served an expulsion order on national security grounds, detained for removal for 18 months and then released due to the impossibility of implementing the expulsion order. The Court reiterates that States have an obligation to identify a destination country in removal orders, stating that “In cases of aliens detained with a view to deportation, lack of clarity as to the destination country could hamper effective control of the authorities’ diligence in handling the deportation”. The Court held that detention with an uncertain destination is violates Articles 3, 5, and 13 ECHR.

Court name: Court of Justice of the European Union
State: Bulgaria
Date of decision:
Key aspects: Detention

A stateless person of Chechen origin, whose real identity could not be determined with certainty, was detained in Bulgaria for several years. His application for asylum was rejected, but he stayed in detention as several countries denied him the right to enter. By the time the case reached the CJEU, the applicant had been in detention for 37 months. The court ruled that where there is no reasonable prospect of successful expulsion, individuals cannot be detained. The Court ruled on several points regarding the interpretation of Article 15(4) to (6) of Directive 2008/115/EC (EU Returns Directive), including on the calculation of the maximum period of detention. The Court also interpreted the concept of a (lack of) reasonable prospect of removal within the meaning of Article 15(4) of the Returns Directive, according to which detention ceases to be justified and the person concerned must be released immediately when it appears that, for legal or other considerations, a reasonable prospect of removal no longer exists.

Court name: European Court of Human Rights
Date of decision:

This case concerns a person born in 1962 in Uzbekistan, who has been residing in Russia since 1990. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the applicant did not acquire a new citizenship, and was therefore stateless. He was arrested and detained until expulsion because of his undocumented status, and released after two years based on the expiry of the time-limit for enforcement of the expulsion order. The applicant brought the case to the ECtHR on the grounds that appeal procedures and the conditions of his detention had been inadequate. The Court ruled that there had been a violation of Articles 3 and 5 ECHR.

Court name: Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (Конституционный суд Российской Федераци)
Date of decision:

The applicant was born in Georgia and moved to Leningrad before the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he was educated and got married. He was never able to exchange his Soviet passport for a Russian passport, was ordered to be expelled while the expulsion was not possible due to his statelessness. His attorney has repeatedly appealed the deportation ruling but in vain.

The decision changed judicial practice and provided a legal ground for the release of stateless persons from detention, even though the amendments to the legislation ordered by the Constitutional Court are still pending (as of May 2021).