Abandoned kids deprived of citizenship certificate

Kathmandu, January 15

Home Minister Shakti Basnet today said the Ministry of Home Affairs would immediately issue a circular telling all district administrations to issue citizenship certificates on the basis of mother’s nationality.

Addressing an interaction organised jointly by Sancharika Samuha and Forum for Law, Women and Development here today, Basnet said there were no legal obstacles to grant citizenship certificates on the basis of mother’s nationality when the applicant’s father does not come to certify documents but due to the need for clarity and work burden on the part of the government employees, people were facing obstacles.

The minister said his ministry had issued circulars to clear doubts in the past and would do the same again.

A programme was organised to highlight the case of children abandoned by the father and or both parents.

Mothers of such children lamented that they could not obtain citizenship certificates for their children. Shivani Kharel of Kathmandu said she had been trying to obtain her citizenship for the last five years but had not been able to get one.

She has also filed a case at the Supreme Court, which has remained subjudice for last three years.

Biplab Chaulagain said he faced difficulties in every field due to lack of citizenship certificate. “I cannot get a job.

I cannot do anything without my citizenship. I have been deprived of simple facilities that a citizen is entitled to,” he lamented.

Stating that the constitution is for the people and people are not for the constitution, Basnet said he would make efforts to end the problem facing those children whose fathers had abandoned them.

He also said the prevalence of old mindset and culture were also at the root of many problems.

Executive Director of FWLD Sabin Shrestha presented a working paper on “Citizenship rights in the new constitution and implementation of those rights in practice.”

He said the new constitution had put daughters at a risk of being stateless. “A daughter is not considered a citizen after she marries (a foreigner) but the same principle does not apply to a son,” he argued.

He said street children, children abandoned by the father or both parents and children orphaned due to earthquake were not being able to obtain citizenship certificates.

Chair of Sancharika Samuha Nirmala Sharma said many citizens were unable to get citizenship certificates in the absence of a new citizenship law.

She said citizens should be able to obtain citizenship certificates in the name of their mother in case the father does not show up to sign the document, but there were many cases where children of this category were not getting their citizenship.

Sushma Gautam of FWLD said 20 people who had not been able to obtain Nepali citizenship in the name of their mother had filed cases at the Supreme Court and those cases were subjudice.

Arjun Kumar Sah of Mahottari told THT that he had visited the District Administration Office seven or eight times after the promulgation of the new constitution but he could not get naturalised citizenship.

Sah’s father is an Indian national but his mother is a Nepali citizen by descent. Sah was born in Nepal and has lived here.

He said the CDO told him to go to the Home Ministry to inquire about his chance of getting naturalised citizenship, but he could not visit Singha Durbar due to lack of identity card.