Debate for ‘or’ provision still ‘unresolved’

  • citizenship issue
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Debate for ‘or’ provision still ‘unresolved’

Aug 10, 2015-

A revised draft of the constitution retains the ‘and’ clause in citizenship by descent, which means both parents have to be Nepali for their child to become a citizen of the country by descent. The Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee has, however, loosened the conditions on acquiring naturalised citizenship by spouses of Nepalis.

Article 11 (2) allows a child whose either father or mother is a Nepali citizen to acquire Nepali citizen 

by descent. However, subsequent proviso 3 and 4 again supersede the proviso 2, making it mandatory for both the parents to be Nepali for a child to acquire Nepali citizenship by descent.  

“The debate of ‘or’ provision remained unresolved as the provision has theoretically accepted it but subsequent proviso will bar to acquire citizenship in practice,” said UCPN (Maoist) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha. 

Shrestha has been advocating for equal rights for both parents to pass on citizenship to their children. He had presented a written proposal to remove the provision on citizenship. “The ruling parties did not budge from their position,” he told the Post, “At least they agreed to remove the discriminatory provision on naturalised citizenship.”

Naturalised citizenship is under state discretionary. Besides, it has not decided the number of years one has to stay in Nepal to be eligible to apply for naturalised citizenship. Earlier, a foreign female married to Nepali male could get citizenship immediately after she would relinquish her first citizenship, while spouse of Nepali female would have to live in Nepal for 15 years after marriage. 

After the midnight agreement, Bhattarai updated his Facebook status claimed that the provision was amended allowing mothers to pass on citizenship to her children. 

“They are trying to mislead us through clauses,” said advocate Subin Mulmi, one of the campaigners of citizenship in the name of mother. 

In contrast, both the Citizenship Act (2006) and the Interim Constitution (2007) explicitly state that the child of a Nepali mother ‘or’ Nepali father can obtain citizenship by descent.

Reluctance towards giving equal rights to women to inherit their identity has drawn widespread criticism. Campaigners have also condemned the political leaders for pretending to listen to public opinion while they were set on sticking to the previous decision. “Citizenship in the name of mother had been one of the top three suggestions provided by the public. But now we know lawmakers were just pretending to listen to us but were not really serious about our issues,” said Dipti Gurung, coordinator of an alliance of people who have not been able to pass on citizenship through their mothers.

Protesters staged a protest on Sunday to condemn the ‘and’ provision and have stated that they will continue their protest until their demand is fulfilled by the government.

Published: 10-08-2015 12:42

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