Nepal | June 20, 2019

Citizenship bill stuck in House panel

‘Some more discussions needed before bill is sent to HoR’

Anita Shrestha

Kathmandu, February 23

Sita (name changed), a resident of Ilam, has been running from pillar to post for  the last few years to obtain citizenship.

The 25-year-old woman who was abandoned by her parents at the age of two,   married a man from Kathmandu two years ago and went to Kathmandu District Administration Office, seeking citizenship certificate on the basis of her husband’s Nepali nationality, but the DAO kept asking her to submit documents confirming who her parents were. Her parents had gone to India 23 years ago never to return.

DAO Kathmandu told Sita to bring either the copies of the citizenship certificate of her parents if they were alive or death certificates if they were dead. She told THT that as per the law, she was entitled to citizenship on the basis of her husband’s Nepali nationality. Yet the DAO kept asking her to bring documents confirming the status of her parents.

“Neither have I been able to get a job, nor am I able to support my husband financially due to lack of citizenship certificate,” she lamented. She said she did not have marriage certificate and worried what would happen to her if her husband deserted her.

According to Radhika (name changed), her husband’s mother has citizenship by descent, but his father died before obtaining citizenship certificate. He has been trying to acquire citizenship for the last 28 years but to no avail. “I have two children from my first husband, who deserted me and my children. I had to secure my children’s citizenship on the basis of my Nepali nationality after fighting a long battle in the court. I now fear that if I have another child from my second husband, I might not be able to secure my child’s citizenship,” she said. Radhika’s brother-in-law also doesn’t have citizenship. “I feel bad that my brother-in-law’s children could not be admitted to school due to lack of birth certificate,” she said.

The new citizenship bill that aims to address some issues of citizenship is stuck in the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives as lawmakers are divided over provisions of the bill. Meanwhile, Shashi Shrestha, chairperson of State Affairs and Good Governance Committee, told THT the committee has forged consensus on incorporating provisions to address the concerns raised by women rights activists. She said there were basically three more provisions related to citizenship of children of Nepali mothers married to foreign men, non-resident Nepalis and children of citizens by birth that the panel still needed to discuss.

She said her panel could finalise the report within a few days. She also said the bill could be passed by the current session of Parliament.

A version of this article appears in print on February 24, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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