Nepal | July 04, 2020

Children of citizens by birth facing livelihood problems

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
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Kathmandu, March 9

Children of citizens by birth continue to face livelihood problems as the new Citizenship (Amendment) Bill remains stuck in the Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee.

SAGC halted its process on the bill in the last session of the Parliament as top leaders of political parties urged the HoR panel to try its best to forge consensus on the issue, particularly on the process to grant naturalised citizenship to foreign women married to Nepali men. The original bill stipulates that foreign women married to Nepali men would get naturalised citizenship after they submit evidence of renunciation of their citizenship. Under the existing provision, such women can get naturalised citizenship immediately after initiating the process of renouncing their citizenship without having to show evidence that they have already renounced their citizenship.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna, said that his party was in favour of retaining the existing provision as far as matrimonial naturalisation was concerned, but the sub-committee formed by the SAGC proposed harsher provision of seven years waiting time for foreign women married to Nepali men to obtain naturalised citizenship on the basis of marriage.

Karna said those who wanted to have seven years waiting period for foreign women married to Nepalis cited a similar provision of Indian citizenship laws, but they did not understand that Nepali women married to Indian men did not have to wait to enjoy their rights in India as citizens of that country. “The moment Nepali women get married to Indian men, they get ration cards and their names are also registered in the voter list. As per Nepal India Friendship Treaty, 1950, Nepali women married to Indian men have the right to enjoy all rights on par with Indian citizens. India does not have citizenship certificate as such. Ration cards and voter lists are the virtual citizenship documents,” Karna said and added that citing the Indian example to introduce a waiting period for foreign women particularly Indian women married to Nepali men was wrong.

Karna said lawmakers needed to think sympathetically about providing citizenship on the basis of birth to those people who were born in Nepal but failed to obtain citizenship by birth between 2006 and 2008 when the citizens by birth were allowed to obtain their citizenship.

“There are some families where parents and siblings are citizens but some family members who were born in Nepal are still stateless,” Karna said. He said delay in enactment of new citizenship law was leading to violation of citizens’ human rights as they were unable to enjoy their fundamental rights that were tied to citizenship certificates.

Chief Attorney of Province 2 Dipendra Jha said children of citizens by birth were not able to enrol in educational institutions, complete their education and apply for government jobs due to lack of citizenship and thus delay in enactment of new citizenship law was affecting children of citizens by birth.

SAGC Chair Shashi Shrestha said she was trying her best to forge all-party consensus on citizenship bill as the issue needed to be settled on the basis of consensus.

“Almost all issues have already been resolved except for marital naturalisation on which lawmakers of the panel are divided. I am trying my best to forge consensus on the bill but I am not sure if this bill will be passed by this session of the Parliam


A version of this article appears in print on March 10, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.


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