Protecting Stateless Persons from Arbitrary Detention


The increasing use of immigration detention, including for punitive purposes, and the criminalisation of irregular migration by a growing number of states, is a concerning global and European trend. Furthermore, despite a range of international standards, including the fact that all EU states have ratified (or pledged to ratify) the 1954 Statelessness Convention, there remains an acute absence of effective national frameworks to identify and protect the stateless. As such there currently exists a huge gulf between notional protection provided under relevant legal standards and the actual realisation of those rights in practice. This has left many stateless persons vulnerable to arbitrary detention in Europe.

Consequently, the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) is embarking on a three year project aimed at:

  1. Studying the extent and impact of the arbitrary immigration detention of stateless people in Europe. It is important to note in this context that stateless persons may also be asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers or completely unrelated to the asylum system.
  2. Developing regional and country-specific tools to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention in Europe
  3. Training lawyers, NGOs and other actors to use the ENS tools to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention
  4. Engaging in an advocacy campaign to strengthen protection for stateless persons at country-specific and regional levels.

The first phase of the project will focus on the situation in Malta, Poland and the Netherlands. As a Malta ENS member, aditus foundation will be responsible for the project’s Malta components.

To better protect stateless persons in Europe from arbitrary detention, the phenomenon and the challenges need to be better understood. Different stakeholders must also unite to identify and share good practices so that these challenges can be addressed. This project seeks to promote and help facilitate this process.


The European Network on Statelessness is a network of NGOs, academic initiatives and individual experts committed to addressing statelessness in Europe – currently with over 90 members in 30 European countries. ENS carries out its work through a range of law & policy, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities. The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion is an expert partner for the ENS project “Protecting Stateless Persons from Arbitrary Detention”.

For further information about the project and it’s Malta activities get in touch with us at For more on ENS and its activities contact ENS Director Chris Nash at or visit