Eradication of statelessness as a priority of State Migration Service
March 19 is a day of professional holiday of migration bodies’ employees of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Participation of State Migration Service which was established by the Decree № 560 of the President Ilham Aliyev dated from March 19, 2007 in citizenship issues was ensured according to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from March 6, 2008.
Right to citizenship as one of the essential human rights determines legal status of person. Person can fully enjoy rights and liberties only when he/she is a citizen of any state and implementation of his/her rights is guaranteed by a state.
Republic of Azerbaijan, which restored its independence acceded to a number of international documents on eradication of statelessness, including 1954 UN Convention on “Status of Stateless Person” and 1961 Convention on “Reduction of Statelessness” and adopted numerous normative acts regulating issues related to stateless persons in our country.
Adoption of Law on “Citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” on September 30, 1998 was a significant step in the direction of eradication of statelessness. The law enabled the persons who didn’t bear the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan or any other state, but was registered on place of residence in the territory of Azerbaijan until January 1, 1992, to obtain citizenship of our republic. At the same time, according to item 3 of Part I of Article 5 of the law refugees resided in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan from January 1, 1988 to January 1, 1992 also were recognized as a citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Absence of the unified state body implementing state policy in migration field and carrying out management of migration processes made challenges on statelessness issues. Timely establishment of State Migration Service by the Decree №560 of the President of Republic of Azerbaijan dated from March 19, 2007 and determination of protection of foreigners’ and stateless persons’ rights, participation in consideration of citizenship issues, as well as provision of fulfillment of obligations under the international agreements in migration sphere which the Republic of Azerbaijan is party to as main functions of the Service strengthened management in this field. Service took necessary measures related with making amendments to legislation, as well as administrative issues. In this regard State Migration Service cooperates with relevant state bodies, international organizations, as well as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization of Migration, European Union, Council of Europe, Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Center for Migration Policy Development and civil societies. According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from March 6, 2008 participation of State Migration Service in citizenship issues was ensured. Since then State Migration Service is carrying out processing of requests, queries and applications filed by individuals and various organizations related to acquisition, restoration, revocation of the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as establishment of the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan. State Migration Service’s work in this activity direction is implemented in compliance with requirements of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, relevant legislative acts, and international documents which Azerbaijan is party to. Needs to be mentioned that for the purpose of timely and decently implementation of duties assigned to State Migration Service in the direction of prevention and eradication of statelessness the structure of State Migration Service has been changed by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from December 29, 2014 and status of Citizenship Issues department changed to Head department. Alongside with the abovementioned, one of the main steps taken in this direction was the “Rules for establishment of the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” approved with Decision №84 of Cabinet of Minister’s dated from March 18, 2015. According to the mentioned Rule the Convention “On eradication of statelessness” dated from August 30, 1961, as well as provisions of the Law “On citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” are considered while establishing person’s citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Thus, Item 4.3 of the Rules envisages such a significant provision that in case the absence of registration upon place of residence of persons, who were citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan (or SSR of Azerbaijan) until the date when the Law “On citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” came into force (until October 7, 1998) and have not left the territory of the country, results in their statelessness, then their affiliation to citizenship of Azerbaijan is recognized. This can be assessed as an outcome of expedient and humanitarian policy pursued by our state in the sphere of eradicating statelessness and fighting against the causes of these cases. The rules also envisages solutions for the problems faced in provision of identity documents to children who lost parents and were deprived from parent care, persons served sentence in penitentiary facilities and military personnel enrolled in military service. Persons’ applications related to the establishment of citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan are received at State Migration Service, the Service’s regional migration departments or ASAN Service centers, and turnover of documents is conducted online.
To note that according to the paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Law “On citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” a foreigner and stateless person who has resided uninterruptedly for the last 5 years in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan on legal bases, has legal source of income, undertakes obligation on observing Constitution and laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as submits a document certifying his/her knowledge of the state language of the Republic of Azerbaijan may be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan upon his/her own application according to the legislation regardless of his/her origin, race and nationality, gender, educational background, religion, political and other convictions.
At the same time, in below mentioned cases foreigners and stateless persons may be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan without waiting the period indicated in the first paragraph of this article:
1) In case a person has higher achievements in spheres of science, technology, culture or sport;
2) In case a person is of great interest of the Republic of Azerbaijan and other exceptional cases.
At the same time, if a person has special services before the Republic of Azerbaijan he/she may be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan without meeting the conditions determined in the first paragraph of this article.
Since 2008 1434 persons acquired citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan with the relevant orders of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Besides, during this period of time 36 467 persons’ citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been established and they have been provided with identification documents of the citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan by relevant state body.
Numerous measures have been taken in the direction of providing documents for stateless persons and in result 1033 stateless persons have been admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan with relevant orders of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Awareness raising events about preventing and eradicating statelessness in the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as documentation of persons in stateless status by State Migration Service with participation of employees of Citizenship issues head department have been conducted in different cities and regions such as Gobustan, Shaki, Shirvan, Khachmaz, Gusar, Gazax, Gakh, Hajigabul, Shamakhi and Sabirabad. Besides that together with regional migration departments of the Service and local executive powers numerous meetings and instructive discussions have been held and relevant work on documentation of persons living without identity documents have been accelerated.
One of the main issues in citizenship law refers to persons with double citizenship. Over the past period existing legislative acts in this sphere were amended. Thus, according to the amendments made on May 30, 2014 the Law “On citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” Article 10 of the amended Law envisages that in cases when citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan has double citizenship (bears citizenship of another state (or states) alongside with the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan) the affiliation of an Azerbaijani citizen to citizenship of a foreign state shall not be recognized, except for cases provided by international agreements of the Republic of Azerbaijan, or in cases resolved in accordance with paragraph 32, Article 109 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan who adopted citizenship of a foreign state should give written information about this to State Migration Service in case he/she is in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan or to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic representations and consulates of the Republic of Azerbaijan abroad within a month. “Application form by the citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan for providing information on adoption of citizenship of foreign country” was confirmed by Decision № 18 of the Cabinet of Ministers dated from January 29, 2015 and was placed in the official website of the Service (www.migration.gov.az). To remind that failure to provide such information by those persons leads to a responsibility envisaged by the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Those persons are charged with fine in the amount of three thousand up to five thousand manats or with public works from three hundred sixty up to four hundred eighty hours.
As seen, successful management of large-scale works related to citizenship issues as one of major human rights is one of priority responsibilities of State Migration Service established 9 years ago.
Chief of Migration Policy and Legal
Support head department, senior
migration service counselor