Children of Nepali citizens by birth still being denied citizenship for lack of laws

  • Kamal is a citizen by birth and his daughter is entitled to get citizenship by descent under the new constitution. But even two years after promulgation of constitution, the govt has not enacted new citizenship law

Kathmandu, July 31

Kamal Todi has gone to Kathmandu District Administration Office on many occasions to obtain citizenship certificate for his  daughter Natasha, but each time he was told that his daughter could not get it due to lack of relevant laws.

Kamal is a citizen by birth and his daughter Natasha is entitled to get citizenship by descent under the new constitution,  but even two years after the promulgation of the constitution, the government has not enacted new citizenship law.

“I do not blame Kathmandu DAO because I know that in the absence of law the officers cannot issue citizenship, but such a vital law should have been enacted soon after the promulgation of the constitution,” Todi told THT.

He said Natasha, who was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Ashoka University in India, would not be able to go to the Philippines in August, as she lacked travel documents or passport.  “I have been sending her to India through land route for the same reason,” Kamal said. He added that whenever he went to buy air tickets for his daughter, he was told by airlines employees that if his daughter was sent back from India for not possessing a passport or travel documents, he would have to pay a fine ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

“I was told to sign a bond but I decided to send my daughter to India through land route,” he added.

He said he went to meet high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs who sympathised with his  daughter’s problem, but expressed their inability to help him due to lack of relevant laws. Natasha told THT that she felt tormented when asked about passport or travel documents. “People ask me questions   as if I am not getting passport or travel documents due to my fault,” she said.

Advocate Dipendra Jha said there were 170,042 citizens by birth and children of citizens by birth were having problems obtaining citizenship certificates. “The government says that implementation of the constitution is its top priority but children of citizens by birth are unable to get citizenship. This is a violation of their fundamental rights and human rights,” he added.

He said the Supreme Court had, on March 15,  issued a writ of mandamus on Prabhat Kumar Shantanu Vs District Administration Office, Dhanusha, and others. As per the SC verdict, the DAOs should issue citizenship certificates to those whose parents are citizens by birth.

Advocate Meera Dhungana, who is the president of  Forum for Women,  Law,  Development, said the constitution clearly stated that children of parents who are Nepali citizens by birth would get citizenship by descent. “We recently filed a petition on behalf of two sisters who were denied citizenship,” she said.

Spokesperson for Ministry of Home Affairs Deepak Kafle said his ministry had initiated the process of amending the Citizenship Act, which would address problems of children of citizens by birth.