Monica Feria-Tinta has acted in a legal intervention (amicus curiae) in relation to a case of deprivation of nationality and de facto statelessness, selected to be examined, by the Constitutional Court of Colombia.
The legal intervention addressed the scope of the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality under international law, the human rights impacts when subject to an arbitrary deprivation of nationality, the notions of de jure and de facto statelessness in the case and generally, procedural and substantive protections in international law concerning fundamental nationality rights.
This is a test case likely to impact the approach to the substance and the procedure relating to the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality in Colombia affecting thousands of cases. The Claimant’s case selected for examination of the Constitutional Court is one of a wider group of individuals who are the children of Colombian nationals, but who were born in Venezuela due to the forced displacement of their parents during the internal armed conflict in Colombia in the 1980s and 1990s and who returned to Colombia in recent years.
Under the Colombian Constitution, Article 96(1)(b) the “children of a Colombian father or mother born abroad who have later established their domicile in Colombian territory or registered in a consular office of the Republic” are Colombian nationals by birth.
Under enabling legislation the birth of an individual to a Colombian parent can be accredited with either (i) authentic (apostilled) documents or (ii) a sworn declaration by two witnesses. In 2015, Venezuela and Colombia broke diplomatic relations and many Colombian nationals born in Venezuela registered their birth supported by sworn declarations of two witnesses in lieu of apostilled documents.
In 2021, the National Registry of Civil Status in Colombia carried out a mass cancellation of citizenship registrations, based on legal provisions issued in 2021. This resulted in around 42,000 Colombians of Venezuelan origin being left with no legal status in Colombia and subject to deportation (as registration by the NRCS is the primary proof of a person’s Colombian citizenship). In that context, the effect of the deprivation rendered the Claimant de facto stateless i.e. without access to an effective/operative citizenship.
The amicus brief was filed on Friday 16 December 2022.
Monica acted in the case instructed by the Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights, alongside Amanda Weston KC (Garden Court Chambers), Allan Cerim and Sophie Bird (Brick Court Chambers).