ROMAN UUSTALU is stateless. Still, that’s probably better than being declared an “alien”, something he was 23 years ago. In what is believed to be the first ever first declaration of its kind by the Irish State, Uustalu was declared stateless yesterday by the the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
It comes ahead of High Court proceedings being taken by Uustalu against the Minister for Justice scheduled for next Tuesday. Uustalu’s solicitors say that he is from the district of Ida-Virumaa in Estonia, and is of Russian ethnicity. At the time of his birth, this area was within the territory of the USSR.
Then in 1991, when Uustalu was 14-years-old , Estonia became an independent State and the town where he grew up, which was made up of mostly Russian inhabitants, became part of the new territory of the Estonian State.
But the newly formed Estonian government did not issue Estonian citizenship to all residents within the territory of Estonia. Persons of Russian ethnicity, like Uustalu, were issued with an “Alien’s Passport”, identifying their citizenship as “undefined”.
Uustalu has lived in Ireland since 2002, but Karen Berkeley of Brophy Solicitors says that his status in Ireland has been undefined until now:
Until now Mr Uustalu could not obtain recognition of his stateless status because no legal or administrative process has been set up to deal with such applications. This is despite Ireland’s obligations pursuant to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, which Ireland has ratified.
“In February 2013, Brophy Solicitors submitted an application to the Minister for Justice and Equality for a declaration of statelessness, and on receiving no response three months later, subsequently issued High Court proceedings for Mr Uustalu,” she said.