Joint Press Release: Roma and People with Disabilities: Unworthy to become Greek citizens?

The Bill “Strategic development prospects of Local Authorities, settlement of Ministry of Interior issues and other provisions” submitted in Parliament on February 21th 2020, results in both procedural and substantive changes in the acquisition of Greek citizenship.

According to Article 41 of the bill, the application of Article 32 of Law 4604/2019, which had reformed the process of verifying the substantive conditions of naturalization, is suspended for a six-month period. In the absence of a transitional provision, this means that the examination of an unknown number of pending naturalization applications is going to be suspended, regardless the level of their examination.

The argument of the explanatory memorandum that the suspension is “in view of the process that is already under way to reform the relevant legal framework”, mainly because “these provisions have not been implemented yet, even though ten months have passed since their adoption”– eight of them by the present Government!- obviously it is not sufficient to justify the perpetuation of the already huge delays that burden the naturalization process.

Ten years after Law 3838/2010 has been applied, which subjected the acquisition of citizenship to elementary procedures for a state of justice, future citizens of the Greek State are still faced in a derogatory and suspicious way, while waiting in queue for an unknown time.

But even more problematic, both in a practical and symbolic way, is article 42 of the Bill ,which repeals, before even applied, the positive measures that were established by Law 4604/2019 on the acquisition of citizenship by children with disabilities and stateless Roma.

Specifically, for children of foreigners with a certified disability of more than 80% who meet the requirement of birth in Greece by legally residing parents but who, due to their disability, fail to meet the requirement of successful education, article 31 of Law 4604/2019 had provided the ability to certify, instead of attending, the provision of specialized care services and psychosocial or therapeutic rehabilitation interventions for an appropriate period of time. This possibility is eliminated now, because according to the explanatory memorandum, “the services of special treatment and psychosocial or therapeutic rehabilitation interventions…do not constitute permanent and stable educational services…and are therefore incompatible with the content of this law…, a basic requirement of whose application is the concept of continuous and successful study. “In other words, an exception to the general rule of citizenship by birth and education, which had been introduced as a positive measure for the compensation of a severe disability, is now abolished solely because it is an exception.

Both the suspension of Article 32 and the repeal of Article 31 of Law 4604/2019 contradict the commitments made by the Greek State in ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under Law 4074 / 2012, and in particular Articles 7, 9, 11 and 18.

Similarly, for “Roma people with a long historical presence in Greece” and birth certification in the country but without a municipal registration, article 46 of Law 4604/2019 had enabled the acquisition of citizenship by a special transparent statelessness determination procedure and a personalized crisis under multiple controls, based on evidence, for which the law included an indicative list. This possibility is now abolished because, according to the Explanatory Memorandum, “in these provisions there are not specified elements, on which the Roma statelessness and long-term presence in the Greek territory can be unequivocally proven”, and for “proven stateless person there are provisions …based on which, the person who is born in Greek territory acquires the Greek citizenship and does not acquire foreign citizenship since his birth”.

In other words, finding ambiguity in the criteria for inclusion in the special procedure does not lead the legislator, as someone would expect, to enrich the process with specific criteria or further controls in order to avoid abuse, but to abolish it completely, and our concerned Roma citizens are referred to the general procedure for “proven stateless people” while those who, without individual responsibility, fail to do just one thing: prove their statelessness

If the perpetuation of pending naturalization applications is merely the legislative reward of a familiar, ultimately, endemic mismanagement, the abolition of specific citizenship procedures that are enacted in favor of vulnerable groups with severe social marginalization and exclusion issues, it refers to ideological concepts of a pure, blond, Aryan and absolutely intact race, free from adultery and disabilities, hermetically closed for those who, for any reasons, deviate from the standards.


Hellenic Association for Human Rights

Generation 2.0 RED