KATHMANDU, MARCH 6
Manish (name changed), who lost his parents when he was a child, grew up in an orphanage in Kathmandu. As per the law, he is entitled to Nepali citizenship, yet he is facing difficulties obtaining the certificate due to mistakes of the orphanage and lack of legal knowledge on the part of the orphanage.
The orphanage was supposed to inform the police and place an advertisement notifying the public if they were willing to adopt the child, but the orphanage did not complete these procedures.
Besides, the orphanage was not legally registered with the concerned department. Due to these reasons, Manish has not been able to obtain citizenship certificate.
He said he could not even buy a SIM card due to lack of citizenship certificate.
Shanti (name changed), who is staying with her stepfather now, does not know who her biological father is. Her mother is no more. She, too, has been deprived of citizenship certificate.
She said she was working in the entertainment sector as she lacked citizenship certificate. "I hear government officers saying men and women are equal. If that is the case, then why am I not able to get my citizenship?" she wondered.
Bimala Tamang, whose family does not own any land, is currently living on public land in Kathmandu along with other landless people. She said her family and many other landless people were denied citizenship simply because they could not produce land ownership certificate to prove their permanent address. She had moved with her husband from the place where their ancestors lived in the past, and it was now difficult to prove a permanent address.
She said people who lacked citizenship in her area could not avail of the self-help scheme training such as tailoring and beauty parlour training due to lack of citizenship. "These trainings are meant for the poor, but since the targeted people lack citizenship, they cannot enrol for such trainings," she lamented.
She blamed patriarchy for flawed citizenship laws that denied many citizens their certificates.
"I hear many political leaders saying 'We are the children of the motherland, but in practice they hate Nepal. They hate their mothers who gave them birth. This is the only reason why they deny mothers the right to transmit Nepali nationality to their children," Tamang added.
Rights activists Tulasa Lata Amatya, who is married to a national of Netherlands, said her husband has been living in Nepal with her for the last 37 years, but her three children have not been able to get Nepali citizenship. She said her three children, who initially had Nepali passport, were deported from Nepal to their father's country.
"After my daughter went to Holland, she wrote me an emotional letter saying Nepal, not the Netherlands, was her country as she was born and grew up in Nepal. I could not hold back my tears," Amatya said.
Advocate Sushma Gautam said government authorities were unnecessarily rigid in matters of the constitution as a result of which many citizens were denied citizenship. "I know there are five children in a family who have not been able to obtain their citizenship. The grandfather of the children is a Nepali citizen.
Their uncles are citizens by descent and just because the citizenship issuing authority mistakenly mentioned 'citizens by birth' in the citizenship of these five children's father, the concerned district administration office is not giving them Nepali citizenship.
She said the district administration office asks humiliating questions to people seeking citizenship on the basis of mother's nationality.
Gautam said the citizenship bill finalised by the State Affairs and Good Governance committee of the House of Representatives had many shortcomings, yet it could address many problems faced by stateless people.
A version of this article appears in the print on March 07, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.