Source: The Namibian
• DIANNE HUBBARD AND KAITY COOPER
THE RIGHT to a nationality is something most people take for granted. If you were born a citizen, you probably give very little thought to the benefits that flow from having a country to which you belong. But as the world’s 10 million stateless people know, nationality can mean the difference between thriving and living in abject poverty.
Some people become stateless when their state of nationality ceases to exist, or when it comes under the control of another state, but many others are born stateless. Even in Namibia, there are many ways a person can be born without a nationality.
The Namibian Constitution provides that a child born in Namibia will acquire citizenship at birth if either parent is a Namibian citizen, or else “ordinarily resident” in the country. But what if the child is abandoned, and the parents cannot be found? Namibia does not have a legal presumption of citizenship in favour of children found in the country. That child may be stateless.