Lawmakers raise Madhesis’ concern about citizenship denial in House

Kathmandu, May 18

Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal lawmakers today raised the issue of citizenship denial to people of Tarai-Madhes during a meeting of the House of Representatives.

Pramod Saha of FSF-N claimed that children of those who acquired citizenship in 2007-08 were not being issued citizenship certificate. He questioned how a child of a Nepali citizen could be denied citizenship provisioned by the constitution. “Even getting enrolment in good education institutions requires citizenship certificate. You can imagine the troubles they are facing,” he said.

Another FSF-N lawmaker Pradip Yadav said the district administration offices were refusing to issue citizen certificates to many people in the Tarai-Madhes, citing absence of laws. “The situation is such that people are not even being able to open bank accounts and acquire driving licences though they know how to drive. This also affects their chances of getting employment,” he added.

Human rights lawyer Mohan Kumar Karna said children of citizens by birth were entitled to citizenship certificate on the basis of descent but due to non-enactment of federal laws, the district administration offices were not issuing citizenship certificates to the children of citizens by birth. “If the Federal Parliament did not enact a new citizenship law in the last three years, then it is not the fault of the children of citizens by birth but that of the state. Why did the state not enact law soon after the constitution was promulgated?” he wondered.

Karna said almost 1,90,000 people obtained citizenship by birth in 2007-08 and their children numbering hundreds of thousands were facing hardships due to non-enactment of federal citizenship laws.

“You need citizenship for everything – to apply for a job, open a bank account and business, enrol in university or obtain a driving licence. If you do not have a citizenship certificate, you cannot live a dignified life as a human being,” he said. Karna said he knew some students who were pursuing education in India were travelling by road because they could not take a flight due to lack of passports,” he added.

Arjun Sah, a resident of Mahottari district, said he had been trying to get citizenship on the basis of his mother’s nationality who is a citizen of Nepal by descent, but he had not been able to get it. “Recently the Supreme Court ordered the government to provide me all state services on par with other citizens, yet I could not avail of all services,” he said.  He added that when he produced the court order, he could open a bank account at Rastriya Banijya Bank, but the concerned authority told him that he could not issue him a driving licence because the  court order had not categorically stated that he could obtain driving licence.

“ I have not been able to  enrol my four-year-old  daughter in kindergarten because I could not get her birth certificate,” he said. He added that he was informed by the ward office in his district that it could not issue a birth certificate to his daughter in the absence of citizenship certificate.