Spain to register homeless stateless child

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Mother gave birth to stateless toddler while traveling from Cameroon

An infant born during its mother’s journey from Cameroon to Europe must be registered in Spain to prevent the child from being declared stateless. This will also guarantee its full rights under Spanish law, a judge ruled.

The birth of the girl in March 2020 was never registered by the competent Algerian authorities even though it took place in a hospital in Oran, in the north of the country. The child and his mother then arrived in Spain when the stateless toddler was one year and two days old. Since then, they have lived in a humanitarian reception center in the southern province of Cordoba.

“We find a child who does not exist for the law, because she has not been registered,” wrote Judge Francisco Ortega. “The Algerian state has no registration of his birth. There is also no trace that the State of Cameroon did so. Ortega explained that “registration is directly required by the international standard which obliges states, including Spain, to immediately register any child born who has not previously been registered in another state.” If Spain did not recognize the girl, added the judge, she “would be acting in the same negligent manner that the Algerian state had already acted by not registering the child”.

In Spain, people must complete their civil status to identify themselves and access health care and education. The judge’s order is a first for Spain according to a lawyer who advised the prosecution in the case. The relevance of the case stems from its potential usefulness in tackling human trafficking networks that exploit vulnerable children, according to Lorena Garcia. “If you don’t exist, you have no rights and no one can protect you,” she said.


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