Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
g. Stateless Persons
The government did not report the number of persons believed to be stateless. With birth registration a requirement for citizenship, all unregistered children were at risk of statelessness. UNHCR estimated 16,000 persons in the country were at “very high risk” of statelessness, out of an estimated 1.65 million persons living in the country without citizenship documents. This figure included an estimated 519,000 abandoned children and foundlings (i.e., abandoned children of unknown parentage), who were at risk of statelessness because they could not prove their citizenship through their parents, as required under the law. Such children were deprived of the opportunity to attend high school (which is legally compulsory until the age of 16, but also requires the presentation of identity documents as part of the enrollment process), and, as adults, would be unable to open a bank account, travel abroad freely, purchase land, gain lawful employment, or vote or exercise other political rights, such as running for office.
Stateless persons reportedly faced numerous significant additional difficulties, such as in accessing health services, marrying civilly, or receiving an inheritance. Social stigma and harassment can also accompany statelessness.
The government has policies to resolve the status of certain stateless persons. In 2020 the government formally established legal procedures for some individuals to petition the government for a formal determination of statelessness status. According to UNHCR a determination of statelessness would pave the way for an individual to receive identity documents and access to other legal processes. Also, according to UNHCR, a rejected application for stateless status means the adjudicating bodies believe the applicant is in fact entitled to a particular nationality.
In February the government inaugurated the governmental commissions tasked with adjudicating claims of statelessness and began training the adjudicators of these bodies. As of October, the commissions had not begun to adjudicate cases.