UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi voiced his concern over the publication of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that may put large numbers of people in India’s north-eastern state of Assam at risk of becoming stateless on September 1.
It is too early to say what the nationality status of those left off the National Register, some 1.9 million according to the authorities, may ultimately be.
UNHCR is concerned, however, that many are at risk of statelessness if they do not possess another nationality.
“Any process that could leave large numbers of people without a nationality would be an enormous blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness,” High Commissioner Grandi said. “I appeal to India to ensure that no one is rendered stateless by this action, including by ensuring adequate access to information, legal aid, and legal recourse in accordance with the highest standards of due process.”
While India has a sovereign right and authority to establish who is an Indian national, UNHCR urges the Government to take steps that mitigate the risk of any individual being left stateless as a result of the NRC update in Assam or similar processes that may take place in other states in India, and calls on the authorities to refrain from detaining or deporting anyone whose nationality has not been verified through this process.
UNHCR reiterates its offer of support to the Government of India to determine people’s nationality and avoid statelessness in accordance with its mandate and international standards.