Will ensure citizenship through mother: Basnet

Home Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet has promised that he will issue circulars to his respective offices to issue citizenship certificates in the spirit of the new constitution.

Minister Basnet made the pledge after hearing out the youths who have not been able to obtain citizenship cards despite the constitutional guarantee that a child born to either a Nepali father ‘or’ mother will be eligible to get citizenship by decent.

Thousands will benefit if Minister Basnet keeps his word.

According to Census 2011, there are 161,231 widowers and 498,606 widows (around 0.65 million single parents) in the country. There are an estimated 23,000 divorced and 40,000 separated couples. The current constitutional provision bars women from passing on citizenship to their children. For a woman to pass on citizenship to her child, as per the citizenship law, she needs to prove that the whereabouts of her husband are unknown. The provision is silent about a single male parent when it comes to passing on citizenship certificate.

“We have three years to make new laws in line with the constitution; but we cannot make youngsters wait for such a long time to obtain something as vital as citizenship certificate,” said Minister Basnet. “I will issue circulars to all district administration offices to issue citizenship to children born to either a Nepali father ‘or’ mother.”
The interim constitution had guaranteed citizenship in the name of mother back in 2007, which was more liberal than the current constitution.

Despite the constitution ensuring citizenship through mother, Shiwani Kharel, a 21-year old student from Baneshwor and her brother Srijan, have not been able to get citizenship certificates, in the lack of which they are at risk of being rendered stateless. Srijan told Minister Basnet that despite the constitution ensuring that children of either a Nepali father ‘or’ mother are eligible for citizenship by descent, they have not been able to acquire their citizenship.

“Officials at the Kathmandu District Administration asked me to wait until laws and regulations related to citizenship are formulated,” said Srijan. “I have already waited for three years. For how long do I have to wait to become a Nepali citizen?” wondered Srijan.

Law practitioners also briefed the home minster on various laws that need to be amended to ensure that Nepali mothers can pass on citizenship to their children.

According to advocate Sabin Shrestha, a child of a Nepali woman with a foreign spouse will have to be born in Nepal, which contradicts the constitution which does not say the child has to be ‘born in Nepal.’

Source: The Kathmandu Post