HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Sangita Chaurasiya of Taulihawa Municipality Ward 4 in Kapilvastu was born on January 23, 1990. She qualified to be a citizen by birth in 2006 when the Interim Constitution incorporated the provision for citizenship by birth.
Her father, also born in Nepal, acquired citizenship by birth but did not secure citizenship for his daughter as he was unaware of the ‘one time’ provision in the constitution.
Sangita lost her contract job at the local Women Development Office as she could not show her citizenship certificate.
Rights activists estimate there could be as many as three lakh offsprings of citizens by birth who have failed to acquire citizenship.
Advocate Mithilesh Kumar Singh and Chandra Kant Gyawali hold the present constitutional and legal provisions pertaining to citizenship responsible for the problem of statelessness.
Those who were born after their father became citizen by birth can acquire citizenship by descent, but those who were born before their father acquired citizenship by birth can only get naturalised citizenship.
Singh said the provision that guarantees citizenship by birth ‘just for one time’ needs to be amended.
In some other cases relating to naturalised citizenship, the Home Ministry has put a de facto ban that has been in place for almost nine years.
Bhola Siwakoti, Joint Secretary at Home Ministry said a proposal has been forwarded to the Law Ministry to amend laws so as to address problems of offsprings of those citizens by birth.
As many as 170,040 people have acquired citizenship by birth after 2006.
Advocate Gyawali said Article 15 of Universal Human Rights Declaration 1948 allows everybody to claim nationality of the country where they are born, but in Nepal, they are deprived of this right.
According to Gyawali, any person whose father or mother is a citizen of Nepal at the time of the commencement of the Interim Constitution is entitled to become citizen by descent, but many eligible people have failed to benefit from this provision as the citizenship directive uses the term ‘father and mother’ contrary to what is written in the constitution. “Faulty laws have rendered thousands stateless. The state needs to urgently address this issue by constituting a commission,” he added.