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Australian says Norway has left her ‘stateless’

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Australian says Norway has left her ‘stateless’
Cecilie Myhre (right) and Donna Fox are the co-founders of the 'Yes to dual citizenship' lobby group. Photo: Submitted
14:34 CEST+02:00
Cecilie Myhre was born in Norway to a Norwegian family that goes back generations. She spent most of her life in the country before moving to Australia 14 years ago. Now she says that the country of her birth has left her stateless.
Myhre became an Australian citizen in 2009 but in order to do so she had to renounce her Norwegian citizenship. When she then moved back to Norway in 2013, she found herself living as a foreigner in her own country. 
 
She wanted to be a Norwegian again but because Norway does not recognize dual citizenship she has been left in a most unusual situation. 
 
Myhre told The Local that she “is without a valid travel document and about to become stateless due to Norway´s practice of single citizenship”.
 
Only able to once again be legally recognized as Norwegian by renouncing her Australian citizenship, Myhre said she is caught in a state of limbo. 
 
“Norway requires that people are renounced from their citizenship before they can become a Norwegian citizen. After renunciation, Norway can take weeks or months to process the proof of renunciation, during which time the person is both stateless and without a valid travel document,” she said. 
 
Planned trip in jeopardy
Myhre said she formally surrendered her Australian passport and citizenship certificate last week but has been told by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration that it could be weeks before it processes her new citizenship paperwork. After that, she’ll have to wait another couple weeks before she can get a passport. 
 
Myhre said this presents a serious problem.
 
“I'm travelling to Australia on October 29th so this issue is certainly affecting my travel plans,” she told The Local. 
 
She accused Norway of violating its commitments on statelessness and the right to free movement. 
 
“Article 15 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person has a right to a citizenship and that people have a right to leave any country including their own and return to that country. Norway has ratified this declaration,” Myhre said. 
 
She also pointed to Norway’s ratification of the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that "everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own" (Article 12, point 2) and the European Convention on Nationality which says that "Each State Party shall permit the renunciation of its nationality provided the persons concerned do not thereby become stateless’ (Article 8, point 1).
 
'Yes to dual citizenship'
According to Myhre, there is a very simple way Norway could live up to the conventions: allow dual citizenship. 
 
Myhre is the co-founder of the group ‘Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap’ (Yes to dual citizenship), which is lobbying for an end to Norway’s ban on dual citizenship. 
 
She told The Local in August that “the political winds are definitely changing”
 
“The [political] parties are starting to understand that the argument frequently used – which is loyalty – is emotion-based and not backed by any facts or data, that dual citizenship does not threaten Norwegian culture or values, and that dual citizenship does not mean it will be easier to be a Norwegian citizen,” Myhre and fellow co-founder Donna Fox wrote at the time. 
 
Norway is the only Nordic country and one of only a small handful of European nations that does not allow dual citizenship.
 
In March, a parliamentary committee formally asked the government to look in to changing the policy. The results of the study are due next month and Myhre said she expects that Norway will eventually decide to allow dual citizenship. She said the change can’t happen soon enough. 
 
“If there is political will to introduce dual citizenship in Norway, it will be a while before it takes effect. In the best case scenario we're talking one to two years from now. In the worst case scenario, there will be no vote in parliament [or] the proposition to introduce dual citizenship won't receive enough votes,” she said. 
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