Submission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Compilation Report
Universal Periodic Review: 3rd Cycle, 27th Session
Issue 5: Children’s right to a nationality and protection against statelessness
The amendments to the Moroccan Nationality Code in 2007 addressed important legislative gaps concerning statelessness in Morocco. Since the amendments to the Nationality Code, Moroccan women have been able to automatically transfer their nationality to their children, irrespective of the nationality of the father. This not only remedies an important vestige of gender inequality in the law, but it also serves as a vital measure to prevent statelessness and ensure children enjoy the right to acquire a nationality at birth, as enshrined in Article 1 of the 1961 Convention. However, some challenges that may lead to statelessness persist. For example, children of stateless refugees who arrive in Morocco will inherit the statelessness condition from their parents even if they are born on the territory of Morocco. This is because Moroccan legislation foresees the conferral of Moroccan nationality only to children born to unknown parents, commonly referred to as “foundlings”, but not to children born to stateless parents whose identity is known.
In addition, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 6 of the Nationality Code, recognizing the right of children to acquire nationality from their mother and not just from their father (“Est Marocain, l’enfant né d’un père marocain ou d’une mère marocaine”), some children born to Moroccan mothers in mixed marriages are still unable to be confirmed as Moroccan nationals in certain situations. Challenges have been reported in confirming children as nationals in cases where they are born out of wedlock or born to a Moroccan mother and an irregular migrant father.
Difficulties also arise for children born in Syria to a Syrian father and a Moroccan mother, who had not been registered at the Moroccan Consulate due to the closure of its services since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. The challenge in these cases is to prove filiation with the mother or to request an easing of the procedural requirements to ensure full and effective implementation of Morocco’s important 2007 reforms recognizing the right of women to confer nationality to their children automatically at birth. UNHCR has been working with a legal partner in an effort to resolve such cases.
UNHCR recommends to the Government of Morocco to:
- Accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention relating to the Reduction of Statelessness;
- Amend the Nationality Code in order to comply with international standards on the prevention and reduction of statelessness, in particular by adopting provisions that grant nationality to a child born in Morocco who would otherwise be stateless; and
- Establish a national legal framework for the protection of stateless persons in accordance with the 1954 Convention.
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