Let CA decide

After the Constituent Assembly (CA) endorsed the 15-day schedule to collect public opinions on the first draft constitution on July 9, people have started debates on key constitutional issues, including the provisions on citizenship. There is no universal principle or practice about providing citizenship. Every country has its own territory, sizable population, demographic patterns, geo-political situation and migration and immigration trends, as well as other national interests. Based on these factors every country sets its specific criteria for issuing citizenship certificate which will ensure the citizens’ certain rights and his/her duty to the nation. Article 12 (1) of the draft constitution states that (a) any person whose father and mother were citizens of Nepal at the time of his/her birth; (b) a person whose mother or father was a citizen of Nepal at the time of his/her birth and both the parents of such a person are Nepali citizens at the time of acquisition of his/her citizenship; (c) a person who is a Nepali citizen by descent according to sub-clause (a), and, the child of a citizen who has acquired Nepali citizenship by descent before the commencement of this Constitution, shall acquire citizenship of Nepal by descent in the name of the mother ‘or’ father after attaining adulthood.

Some Kathmandu based diplomats have been lobbying with top political leaders of the various parties for making certain changes to the draft

With regard to acquiring the naturalized citizenship the draft constitution states that (a) if a male foreign citizen who is married to Nepali citizen after the commencement of this constitution, wishes to acquire matrimonial naturalized citizenship, shall acquire naturalized citizenship of Nepal as per the law if he has lived in the country for 15 years, and has initiated the process of relinquishing his foreign citizenship; (b) if a foreign woman who is married to a Nepali citizen, wishes to acquire naturalized citizenship of Nepal, may acquire naturalized citizenship of the country, as provisioned in the law, if she initiates the process of relinquishing her foreign citizenship and (c) if a person born in Nepal to a Nepali citizen married to a foreign citizen, and has permanent domicile in the country and has voluntarily declared about not acquiring foreign citizenship, shall acquire naturalized citizenship of Nepal as per the law.

These are the three criteria set for acquiring the matrimonial and naturalized citizenship. However, the naturalized citizens cannot hold certain key political positions mentioned in the draft constitution. Before the people have started debates on the draft statute, Country Office of UN Population Fund has been lobbying for changing the Article 12 (1) of the draft constitution by writing to the Central Department of Population Studies, TU, for “timely intervention in crucial matter”. Similarly some other Kathmandu-based diplomats have been lobbying with top political leaders of the various parties for making certain changes to the draft. This is a gross violation of diplomatic norms. Would they tolerate such intervention by a Nepali diplomat in their countries? It is the sovereign Nepali people and the CA who will decide what provisions best suit the country.

Right move

It has come to light that many Nepali civil servants possess Diversity Visa, Permanent Residency (PR) or Green Card. But this double loyalty had continued for years without the government moving in to end it. The present minister of General Administration had tried to moved to take action against such employees but the lack of clear legal provisions he could not do so. However, on his initiative, the fourth amendment to the Civil Service Act was endorsed by the Legislature-Parliament on Friday. Many civil servants are making the most out of duel citizenship and reaping benefits. But their loyalty to their duty in Nepal has been poor.

With the latest amendment, such civil servants have been rightly granted 60 days to own up if they possess these documents and they should quit the PR after the enactment of the bill. In case of failure, they will lose their jobs. The employees now are required to submit all the details if they have applied for or possess PR within 30 days. The amendment gives them a choice: either to retain their government job or become a permanent resident of a foreign country. But they cannot have both and continue a conflict of interests.