Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Govt tables Citizenship Bill at House of Representatives

The draft of the Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006 was tabled in the meeting of the House of Representatives Tuesday with the objective of timely amendment and integration of the existing laws related to citizenship.

The draft of the Citizenship Bill has the provision that an individual who was born in Nepal before April 1990 and has permanent domicile in Nepal will be a citizen of Nepal on the basis of birth.

Any person born of parents who are the citizens of Nepal will be a citizen of Nepal on the basis of descent and every minor found in Nepal whose parents' whereabouts is not known will be considered the citizen of Nepal on the basis of descent until the whereabouts of the parents is known.

Any foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen can acquire the Nepali citizenship on the basis of naturalization once she initiates the process of giving up her foreign citizenship. In order to acquire the citizenship, she will have to submit an application in the designated format, according to the draft of the Citizenship Bill.

A person more than 16 years of age and who wants to acquire citizenship certificate on the basis of birth or descent is required to apply for the same by including with the application the Nepali citizenship certificate of one's father, mother or the close relative in his lineage, one's birth certificate, the certificate attesting one's lineage, the recommendation of the Village Development Committee (VDC) or Municipality concerned, the land-ownership certificate in one's name, father's name or mother's name, or the receipt of the house tax.

The Government can also dispatch the citizenship distribution teams for the purpose of distributing citizenship certificates if it deems necessary, it is stated in the draft of the Citizenship Bill.

Mainwhile Experts raised serious concern over the proposed draft of the citizenship bill tabled at the House of Representatives and demanded that it should be immediately scrapped. The experts claimed that Nepali people would be outnumbered by foreigners if the proposed billcomes into effect.

While addressing an interaction programme on “Implications of the draft of the citizenship bill” organised by the Media Group Nepal Bhandari said the present House of Representatives (HoR) has no right to pass bill. He also termed the draft as “anti-nationalist”.

According to Bhandari, the bill if passed would bring dire consequences to the Nepali people because millions of foreigners living in Nepal from over 16 countries will claim citizenship. Citing the example of Fiji, he said that Nepali people would turn refugees in their own land if the proposed bill is passed.
Bhandari also claimed that the family members of minister Hridayesh Tripathi were involved in the encroachment of Nepal’s land at Susta.

“Even India has stopped providing citizenship to foreigners since 1961,” he said. Refuting the claim of Madhesi people he said that only 1.6 million people are deprived of citizenship certificate. “This bill would not solve the citizenship problems of the ethnic minorities of Nepal.” Advocate Borna Bahadur Karki said the draft of the bill is insignificant at a time when the nation is passing through transitional phase. He claimed that the MPs are on wrong track and this would lead the nation towards more complex situation. He expressed fear that the bill, if passed, could also end the identity of nation and suggested that the government should adopt stern policy regarding the sensitive issue of citizenship. “If we cannot check this on time it would be a unfortunate for the nation,” he said.

Expert on border issues Chetendra Jung Himali said the bill would put Nepal’s existence in danger. He said the people should began campaign against the draft of the citizenship bill. He also said they have formed a committee to oppose misuse of citizenship.

The committee had suggested the government to adopt Green Card system for the foreigners living in Nepal like the developed countries.

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