Children of citizens by birth to become citizens by descent

Published On: April 4, 2019 05:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 4: The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a circular to all 77 District Administration Offices (DAOs) in the country to issue citizenship by descent to the children of those who were given citizenship by birth through a special one-time decision some 12 years ago.

Distribution of citizenship certificates to the children of those possessing citizenship by birth stalled after November 2008 as such citizenship by birth was distributed under a "special government decision" in 2006. The government at the time had provided citizenship by birth to those born inside the territory of Nepal and living within the country once they were recommended for such citizenship by any three Nepali citizens .

According to official records at the Home Ministry, altogether 190,726 individuals had obtained citizenship by birth, based on that special decision.

At the time, the government had said that the children of those obtaining citizenship by birth should apply for their own citizenship within the next two years . But such children who had not reached 16 years of age prior to November 2008 remained deprived of citizenship for lack of any law or special arrangement that would address their situation.

A circular issued on Tuesday by Under-secretary Ganga Prasad Neupane at the ministry has stated that there were three major reasons why Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa took the decision: The citizenship amendment bill has been under discussion in parliament since long; the Supreme Court has issued an order to distribute citizenship by descent to the children of Nepali citizens by birth; and it has become urgent to address the problems of educational and career development faced by adults meeting the age criteria for citizenship.

The Home Ministry has further instructed all 77 districts to provide citizenship under Article 11 Section 3 of the constitution, following the provisions and procedures under the Citizenship Act 2006 and its regulations as well as the Citizenship Certificate Distribution Procedures Directives 2006.

Article 11 Section 3 states that 'a child of a citizen having obtained the citizenship of Nepal by birth before the commencement of this constitution shall, if his/her father or mother both are citizens of Nepal shall be entitled to Nepali citizenship by descent upon attaining the age of majority.'

Similarly, the citizenship amendment bill under discussion in parliament has proposed citizenship by descent to the children of citizens by birth. It has done away with the 'citizenship by birth' category altogether and has included a provision to provide citizenship by descent to those born and living within Nepal.

Due to differences between lawmakers on various related provisions, the bill has stalled in parliament for over seven months.

With the delay in enacting law to implement the constitutional provision, various individuals and organizations had gone to the Supreme Court seeking an order for citizenship by descent to the children of citizens by birth. After hearings on different writs, the SC ordered the government to provide citizenship by descent to the children of citizens by birth.

The issuance of the circular has been notified to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and the Offices of Chief Minister and Council of Ministers of all seven provinces.

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