Statelessness in Italy: What do the Italian Law and Court say?

Dec 21, 2022

The Decree of September 3rd, 2022 of the Ordinary Court of Rome recognized the Italian citizenship for de facto statelessness to a child born in Italy in 2018 from a Paraguayan mother and unknown father.

At the time of her birth, the child’s mother asked the Paraguayan Embassy for her daughter’s recognition as a Paraguayan citizen, and for her passport to be issued. However, she received a negative response.

 According to art. 146 of the Paraguayan Constitution, are of natural Paraguayan nationality: “The children of Paraguayan mother or father born abroad, when they reside in the Republic of Paraguay in a permanent way”.

Thus, the transfer to Paraguay would have been the only possible way for the child to obtain Paraguayan citizenship from her mother. Moreover, being the daughter of an unknown father, the child had not been able to acquire any other citizenship, resulting in statelessness.

What happens under Italian law when a person born in Italy is declared stateless?

According to art. 1 co. 1 lett. B) l. 91/92, is an Italian national by birth “who was born in the territory of the Republic if both parents are unknown or stateless, or if the child does not follow the nationality of the parents according to the law of the State to which they belong“.

On May 2021, pursuant to art. 1 co. 1 lett. B) l. 91/92 cited above, the mother applied for recognition of Italian citizenship for her stateless daughter before the Ordinary Court of Rome, who considered excessive the necessary transfer of the child to Paraguay in order to obtain citizenship, as required by the Paraguayan Constitution. Consequently, it was held that the case fell within the scope of Art. 1 co. 1 lett. B) 1. 91/92. 

The request for recognition of Italian citizenship in favor of the kid has been thus granted and the child was declared an Italian citizen with the ordinance dated September 3rd, 2022.

Statelessness in Europe

The right to nationality is the subject of numerous international treaties, first of all, the European Convention on Nationality, based on principles of non-discrimination and prevention of statelessness.

This right constitutes a fundamental part of social identity and is considered essential for the individual to enjoy other important rights such as access to education, employment, health care, and freedom of movement.

The causes of statelessness are multiple, including complexities in nationality laws, state succession, forced displacement, contemporary and past migration movements, problems with birth registration, and problems with administrative practices.

According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), there are more than half a million stateless persons or persons of uncertain nationality in Europe.

This esteem includes the stateless people in Italy, which counts between 3.000 and 15.000 individuals, and only a few hundred of them have received stateless status from the Italian Government.

 A great part of the stateless people in Italy is part of the Rom community.

All around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly stressed the existing inequalities and exasperated the already marginalized situation of the stateless people.


Writers: Chiara Vignali e Ylenia Iervolino

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