Call to amend citizenship-related acts

Kathmandu, December 22

Lawmakers and experts have stressed the need for amending the citizenship-related provision in the new constitution to guarantee the rights of women.

Speaking at an interaction jointly organised by Working Women Journalists and Forum for Women, Law and Development here today, Minister for General Administration Rekha Sharma said they were successful in securing more rights for women in the new constitution.

She, however, said that women can enjoy these rights only through formulation and implementation of related acts, policies and directives.

“We have gained more rights than our mothers and grandmothers, but the rights we enjoy are still not equal to those enjoyed by our brothers,” she said, adding that the current constitution could not be discrimination-free despite all their efforts. “Nevertheless, it is still progressive in terms of ensuring rights to women,” she added.

She also stressed the need for upholding the principles of equality while drafting acts related to citizenship to ensure the rights given to women by the new constitution.

UCPN-Maoist lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari said the new constitution has introduced progressive provisions regarding citizenship. “There should not be any discrimination between men and women and the procedures for acquiring citizenship should be made hassle-free.”

Stating that one cannot claim all rights just because they are mentioned in the constitution, he said the state needs to be economically strong and politically stable for all its citizens to be able to enjoy all their fundamental rights. “But if the state is weak it is difficult to guarantee all fundamental rights to citizens,” he added.

He informed that the government needs to immediately amend around 175 acts and introduce another 300 acts within two years to implement the new constitution.

Advocate Sabin Shrestha presented a brief review of the changes regarding citizenship provisions made in the new constitution and urged the government to draft necessary acts to implement rights ensured in new constitution.

“Existing acts are not compatible with the citizenship-related provisions in the new constitution. Hence, these acts need to be amended so that women can enjoy rights guaranteed under the new constitution,” he said.

Similarly other lawmakers such as Jitendra Dev and Sher Bahadur Tamang also stressed on amending the existing acts to make them compatible with the new constitution.