Colombia: IACHR Commends New Nationality Law

November 1, 2023

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the Law 2332 on the acquisition, loss, and recovery of Colombian nationality and calls on the State to continue its efforts to prevent, reduce, and eradicate statelessness.

The law entered into force on September 25, 2023, and contains aspects the IACHR positively recognizes, including the facilities for stateless persons to acquire nationality by naturalization and the granting of citizenship to children born in Colombian territory to stateless parents and those protected by temporary migration regularization mechanisms.

At the same time, the IACHR notes with concern that the law makes the acquisition of nationality by birth conditional on the mother and/or father of the child having a regular migration status in Colombia and the intention to remain in the territory for three consecutive years.

This requirement would disproportionately affect the children of people whose migration status is irregular, who cannot return to their country of origin or habitual residence, or who hold visas but have not yet been in Colombia for three years. Likewise, it would create risks of statelessness for people born in Colombian territory who do not have effective access to another nationality due to legal or other obstacles that prevent them from acquiring it in practice.

In order to comply with its obligations to reduce, prevent and eradicate statelessness, the State has adopted different public policies, such as the "Childhood First" program—which seeks to guarantee the right to a nationality for children, born in Colombian territory, of a Venezuelan mother and father in specific cases—; Circular 167 of 2017—which seeks to respond to possible situations of statelessness—; as well as the regulation of a procedure for the recognition of stateless status. In this regard, the IACHR recalls the importance of guaranteeing a participatory process with relevant actors in this regulation.

The IACHR notes that statelessness seriously compromises the exercise of civil and political rights and economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. In this regard, the State must promptly register the birth of children and grant nationality to those born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless. This means that if there is no certainty of effective access to another nationality, the authorities should consider automatically granting Colombian nationality, regardless of the legal or migration status of the mother and/or father.

In particular, the IACHR urges the State to adopt a broad, flexible interpretation of the "regular residence" requirement established in Law 2332. This considering that a person's migration status cannot be a condition for the granting of citizenship by the State since this status can in no way constitute a justification for depriving them of their right to nationality or the enjoyment and exercise of their rights.

Finally, the IACHR emphasizes that the State must refrain from adopting interpretations, practices, or legislation regarding the granting of nationality, when the application favors an increase in the number of stateless people. This includes cases in which a person may be entitled to a nationality but face obstacles to acquiring it in practice.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 257/23

3:45 PM