A stateless person in the “jaws” of homelessness

Art. 1 Paragraph 1 of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons establishes the definition of a stateless person:

a person whom no country, on the basis of its legislation, considers to be its citizen.

In Croatian legislation, the Social Welfare Act defines the homeless in its glossary as:

“a person who does not have a place of residence or funds with which he could cover the costs of housing, and is accommodated or uses the service of organized housing in a shelter or overnight accommodation or resides in public or other places that are not intended for housing”

The client B.P. (name of father S. and of mother R.), was born on October 8, 1959 in Baranjsko Petrovo Selo, Republic of Croatia, secondary school, unmarried, without children, person without citizenship and without status in the Republic of Croatia. He has lived continuously in the Republic of Croatia since birth!!!


According to B.P. his parents moved from the Republic of Serbia to Baranjsko Petrovo Selo in 1941, where he was born. Later, he moved with his parents to the town of Petlovac, where he also finished elementary school.

During 1994, he resolved his permanent residence status in the Republic of Croatia because on October 8, 1991, he had a registered residence in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, but lost that status in 2003. After that, he was placed in Reception center Ježevo, from where he was dismissed due to the impossibility of forced removal. After his dismissal from the Centre, he was twice granted a temporary stay in the Republic of Croatia for 2 months each. After the cancellation of his permanent residence, he submitted a request for approval of temporary residence three times, but his request was rejected each time.

During 1998, he tried to return to Baranja, but a fire station was built in the place where his family’s house was, because the house they lived in was owned by the municipality, that is, the house was never registered to his father. During the nineties, both his father and mother passed away.

B.P. initiated procedures for admission to Croatian citizenship, but they were rejected.

CRP Sisak received this case from the Ministry of the Interior in May 2019 and is following it to this day. We found out that the notification about the fundamental registration of the client was sent to Šabac, Republic of Serbia, according to his father’s origin, but he was never registered in the citizen books there, nor anywhere else. B.P. theoretically had the possibility of subsequent enrollment in the registry books of the Republic of Serbia, and obtaining personal documents of the country in question, however, he does not feel that he is a member of that nation. According to him, his home country is the Republic of Croatia.

B.P. resides in the Republic of Croatia without identification documents, is invisible to society, prevented from exercising the rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution. We emphasize that it is not possible to apply the measure of forced removal of the client because he does not have a country of origin, a country from which he came to the Republic of Croatia or a third country with his consent, as well as a temporary postponement of forced removal because the same does not make sense.

At the end of last year, related to the regulation of his status, a request for a temporary residence permit was rejected for serious justified reasons.

B.P. is temporarily accommodated in the Caritas home for the homeless of St. Vinko Paulski in Osijek, where they take care of him. He has no regulated status, no right to health insurance, social welfare, the right to work and is on the margins of society.

Caritas home for the homeless, Osijek
Caritas home for the homeless, Osijek

B.P. is de iure a stateless person who is not visible in society, and who needs the help of all stakeholders of the system itself. In addition to all that, he finds himself in the status of homeless, but not by his own will, but by a combination of unfortunate circumstances.

It must be indicated that the procedures for determining statelessness should be formalized by law and integrated into administrative law procedures. Determining whether a person is stateless can be complex and challenging, but it is in the common interest of states and stateless persons to make the determination procedures as simple, fair and efficient as possible.

CRP Sisak, despite all aggravating circumstances, will persist in providing free legal assistance in regulating the status of the client B.P., so that he possibly becomes equal among equals in Croatian society.


In Sisak, 27 April 2023

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