Citizenship Bill stricter than charter: Karna

Kathmandu, August 22

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna, who is also a senior advocate, said today that provisions of the new Citizenship Bill were more stringent than those of the constitution.

Speaking at an interaction organised by Tarai Human Rights Defenders Alliance, Karna said the new bill had proposed that a foreign woman married to a Nepali man would have to submit evidence of renouncement of her citizenship within six months failing which her naturalised Nepali citizenship would be revoked. “Many women may not be able to produce the evidence of the renouncement of their citizenship in six months,” he added.  Karna said the state should not make such rigid laws on citizenship.

Karna said the requirement for mothers to submit affidavits stating that they did not know who the fathers of their children were was humiliating, to say the least.

He added that the international convention on nationality clearly stipulated that minor children of a naturalised citizen automatically qualified for citizenship of the country his/her parents had become the citizen of. “But in our country, this right of a child was never recognised,” he added.  Karna said the constitution did not mention anywhere that children of citizens by birth should not be granted citizenship, yet children of citizens by birth were not getting their citizenship.

He also questioned the bill’s proposal to sentence Nepalis to jail for making minor mistakes in spellings of names, date of birth or other minor details while recommending citizenship. “This will scare local level officers from writing recommendation letters for applicants,” he added.

He said the new bill’s requirement that NRNs provide evidence that his/her mother or father or grandfather or grandmother was a Nepali national could restrict foreign women married to Nepali men from acquiring Nepali citizenship.  The RJP-N lawmaker stressed that the constitution had to be amended to address inequality between sons and daughters, as it discriminates against Nepali women married to foreigners.

Lawmaker Ram Lakhan Harijan said poor Dalit families, who had been living in somebody else’s land were also deprived of citizenship and they should be given citizenship if they could prove their residence in Nepal.