Source: The Namibian
By Dianne Hubbard and Kaity Cooper
DANIELA is an eight-year-old girl who has spent most of her life fighting for an identity. Daniela was born in 2008 to Cuban parents in Cape Town, South Africa.
When she was four, her parents applied for a travel document for her to travel to Cuba to visit her grandmother, who was ill. It was then that they discovered that neither Cuba nor South Africa would recognise Daniela: she was stateless.
A stateless person is someone who is not considered a national of any state under its law. In Daniela’s case, the laws of Cuba and South Africa clashed, leaving her without either nationality. In an effort to discourage emigration of its nationals, Cuba assigns “permanent immigrant status” to any person who leaves the country for over 11 months. This means that after being away for 11 months, Cuban parents cannot pass on their citizenship to children born abroad. If the child is not eligible for citizenship in the country in which he or she is born, that child will be stateless. South Africa’s Citizenship Act theoretically grants citizenship to children born in its territory who are stateless. However, despite this provision, South Africa’s department of home affairs refused to recognise Daniela as a citizen.