SRT grantee partner the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association, (MYLA), were among those celebrating a legislative victory that worked to end statelessness in North Macedonia. In June 2023 following a decade of advocacy, the Parliament passed amendments drafted by MYLA, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), to the Law on Civil Registry. The proposal detaches the birth registration of a child from the legal status of its parents.
The amendments will mandate the immediate registration of every child born within North Macedonian territory, regardless of the nationality or status of the child’s parents, giving a legal identity and nationality to already over 700 people, including children. This in turn brings access to social protection, healthcare, education and employment. MYLA, in collaboration with UNHCR, will also provide its expertise to the Civil Registry for the successful implementation of the Law.
Additionally, MYLA has been involved in helping individual cases of statelessness since 2011. Valentin Rakip, now 21 years old, has been one of the organisation’s most challenging cases for determining legal identity, and in September 2023 MYLA were finally able to resolve his case.
Valentin was born in Macedonia to a Macedonian father and a Serbian mother. Initially his mother was residing illegally in the country, and when she finally managed to obtain documents from Serbia, she abandoned her children and moved to another country. In the meantime, his father died before he managed to officially recognise the paternity for all the children.
In 2017 when Valentin was 15, MYLA managed to register Valentin and his siblings in the birth register, and for the first time he received a birth certificate as a confirmation of his identity. However, this did not legally confer citizenship, and MYLA has spent the last six years trying to secure this. This included conducting three consecutive legal procedures, a year of advocacy, as well as working on the wider legislation changes.
Valentin Rakip was finally issued a Macedonian ID document on September 25, 2023. He will now get a passport, health insurance, and gain access to employment and all rights according to the law.
You can see more on Valentin’s story here
© United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR) 2022:
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