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Promoting Citizenship and Preventing Statelessness in South Africa: A Practitioner’s Guide

By: Lawyers for Human Rights: Making Rights Real

‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Without the protection afforded by citizenship and nationality individuals face insecurity, discrimination and marginalisation without any means of accessing protection.

Stateless persons are among the most vulnerable and are often denied the enjoyment of rights such as equality before the law, the right to work, education and healthcare. Being stateless means that individuals may not even be able to marry or register the births of their own children.

Lawyers for Human Rights has been working on issues of statelessness since 2010. We established a Statelessness Project in 2011 and have been assisting stateless persons since this time. We continue to be concerned by the discrimination and absence of accessible protective measures for stateless persons. This Guide provides practical guidance in the representation and provision of assistance to stateless persons. We hope that this Guide will assist legal practitioners and social workers to take on cases of stateless persons and to assist them to acquire documents and citizenship.

Lawyers for Human Rights acknowledges the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in our work in preventing and reducing statelessness. In particular we thank Sergio Calle Noreno for his inspiration and support of our Statelessness Project. We are further grateful for invaluable direction provided by the UNHCR’s Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons which was published in June 2014.