Nepal | October 20, 2020

‘Unfair citizenship laws put children at risk of becoming stateless’

Thomson Reuters Foundation
Share Now:

London, June 28

Countries that ban mothers from passing on their citizenship to their children risk creating ‘a tsunami of injustices’ for families and are holding back development, a global conference on statelessness heard yesterday.

Twenty-five countries, including Nepal, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, do not let women hand their nationality to their children, placing them at risk of becoming stateless, which means they are not recognised as citizens by any countries.

Catherine Harrington of the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights said discriminatory laws fuelled statelessness and hampered development because they reduced people’s ability to contribute to society.

They can also have a ‘tragic impact’ on families, she said.

Nepali single mother Deepti Gurung told the conference in The Hague how her daughters Neha and Nikita were left stateless because they could not inherit her citizenship.

Neha dreamt of becoming a doctor, but was barred from the entrance exam because she lacked citizenship.

“It was horribly painful to see my sweetheart shut her books,” said Gurung, who has long campaigned for reforms.

She described Nepal as ‘the land of Everest and stateless children’ and said countries with similar laws were wasting the talents of their young people. The Himalayan nation has stated that it does not have stateless people, but legal experts believe there is a large stateless population.

Children often become stateless if they cannot inherit their father’s nationality. This can happen in cases where the father is absent, dead, displaced by war or is stateless himself. Gurung said stateless people suffered a ‘tsunami of injustices’ — they cannot travel, open bank accounts, get a scooter licence or even a mobile phone SIM card.

“I felt we had been forbidden to live freely. I felt like a fugitive in my own country for a crime we had not committed,” she said. After a long battle with the authorities, her daughters acquired citizenship and are now planning to become lawyers.

Activist Habiba Al-Hinai, who has campaigned for reforms in Oman, told the conference of her shock on discovering her son Hafez could only inherit his German father’s nationality. When Hafez was born premature she received a colossal hospital bill even though medical care is free for Omanis.

“I said ‘Why? I’m Omani’ and they said, ‘Yes, but your son is a foreigner.’ That was the first shock,” she said. Although her son has German citizenship, she said many other children with Omani mothers and foreign fathers end up stateless.

“They are punishing women with the law,” Al-Hinai said.

Her son was forced to leave Oman when he was 18 and is now studying engineering in Berlin. Al-Hinai, who runs the Omani Association for Human Rights, decided to move too.

“I cannot consider Oman my country if it cannot have my children,” she said. “What’s the point of calling it home?”

Harrington said there was a growing momentum for reform in the 19 countries having overhauled discriminatory laws in the last 15 years, most recently Sierra Leone and Madagascar.

 


A version of this article appears in print on June 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Nepalaya releases Dr Sudha Sharma's memoir 'Singha Durbarko Ghumne Mech'

KATHMANDU: Nepalaya book publication house has released Dr Sudha Sharma's memoir 'Singha Durbarko Ghumne Mech'. Issuing a press statement, the publication house said, Nepal's Former President Dr Ram Baran Yadav unveiled the book amid special ceremony in Kathmandu, on Saturday. The book chr Read More...

Pakistan opposition holds mass rally calling for PM Khan to go

KARACHI: Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi on Sunday as part of a campaign to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan, who they accuse of being installed by the military in a rigged election two years ago. The mass demonstration in Karachi was Read More...

TVET for well-off career in Tourism and Hospitality

Travel & Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting one in 10 jobs (330 million) worldwide, and generating 10.3% of global GDP. Over the past five years, one in four new jobs were created by the sector, making Travel & Tourism the best partner for governments to ge Read More...

Dreams of bereaved family shattered after death of ASI Govinda BK

DHANGADHI: The family members of police personnel who was killed in an ambush on Saturday night are still in a state of shock. Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) Govinda BK was killed in an ambush set up by smugglers on the night of October 17. He had taken the charge of police post based in Read More...

Department of Commerce collects Rs 7.8 million in fines

KATHMANDU: The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection (DCSCP) has collected revenue of over Rs 7.8 million in fines from businesspersons selling substandard goods and operating business illegally. The department had carried out a market monitoring in Kathmandu Valley from Sept Read More...

Public Service Commission halts all written exams until further notice

KATHMANDU: The Public Service Commission has decided to postpone all scheduled written examinations until further notice citing the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Issuing a notice, the PSC has stated that all written exams scheduled by the Commission from November 1 have been halted for the present Read More...

Nepal’s Covid-19 tally hits 136,036 with 3,790 new cases recorded on Monday

KATHMANDU: Nepal registered 3,790 additional cases of coronavirus infection taking the nationwide Covid-19 tally to 136,036, on Monday. There are currently 40,778 active cases of infection while 4,470 people are staying at quarantine facilities across the country. A total of 2,335 people who h Read More...

Ministry of Home Affairs

Home Ministry confirms "emergency curfew" notice as hoax

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has stated that the "emergency curfew" notice disseminated through a Short Message Service (SMS) and circulating on social media on Monday morning was a hoax. Issuing a press release today, MoHA said that the notice was false, misguiding, baseless, Read More...