Legal Aid for Stateless
Pakistan is host to a large number of stateless persons, including those from Bengali, Bihari and Rohingya communities, mainly concentrated in the metropolitan city of Karachi. Individuals are either stateless or at risk of statelessness due to unresolved nationality issues. As access to basic services, including healthcare and education, in Pakistan is increasingly dependent on the possession of a computerized identity card as proof of Pakistani nationality, the situation faced by stateless communities is particularly challenging.
Pakistan is not a party to the 1954 and 1961 Statelessness Conventions nor does it have its own specific national legislation/mechanism to address statelessness. Therefore, stateless persons remain unidentified and their protection needs unattended. However, there is legislation in Pakistan that clearly identifies the routes to obtaining Pakistani citizenship. These include citizenship by birth, descent, marriage, and naturalization. The gap between the existing law and its implementation results in statelessness being perpetuated and citizenship rights being compromised.
Statelessness traps people in poverty cycles and affects multiple generations. As a result of stateless communities being invisible to the state, they are often neglected by development actors and processes. . A lack of identity is the cause for most of the following issues:
- Difficulty accessing education and healthcare;
- Lack of work potential and employment opportunities;
- Lack of opportunities to own or register a business;
- Restricted property rights;
- Limited access to a bank account or a loan;
- Threat of extortion, detention or expulsion;
Imkaan Legal Aid Centre
Imkaan Legal Aid Centre serves marginalized stateless communities across Karachi by facilitating the process of obtaining identity for those who have an existing right under Pakistan’s legal framework.
The project focuses on:
- Legal assistance, advice and pro-bono legal representation to stateless persons;
- Advocacy, awareness raising and sensitization with governmental and semi-governmental organizations;
- Community outreach and awareness sessions, empowering the community to understand their rights.
Since the establishment of the Legal Aid Centre,, Imkaan has made significant progress in helping stateless individuals resolve issues related to identity documents., To date, the Legal Aid Centre has registered a total of 1037 cases and has successfully assisted over 230 individuals in obtaining crucial documents such as CNICs and Form Bs. Moreover, Imkaan’s dedicated legal staff has initiated 73 legal proceedings in both courts of law and other tribunals, achieving success in 32 of these cases.
For more information about the project, please contact email@example.com.