LALITPUR, August 9: Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, stated that the regulations related to citizenship would be introduced at the earliest.
Addressing a discussion program on the implementation of the Citizenship Act here today, he asserted that the situation of an individual applying for a citizenship certificate and having to wait for months on end to obtain one will be over once the regulations are introduced.
The discussion program was jointly organized by the Media Advocacy Group and the Forum for Women, Law, and Development.
"We are presenting the regulation related to citizenship in the Council of Ministers very soon. We are yet to receive the input of the Ministry of Law on this. There will be no need for people entitled to the citizenship certificate to wait for months," Shrestha said, adding that the distribution of naturalized citizenship has been somewhat simplified at present.
Stating that a provision has been made at present wherein one can acquire naturalized citizenship through self-declaration and there is no requirement for documentary evidence as before, Minister Shrestha said that there is no provision in the Constitution by which the offspring of a Nepali woman married to a foreign male will obtain citizenship on the basis of descent, and that one cannot expect to have the provision in the regulations which is not in the Constitution.
The DPM and Home Minister reiterated that the Constitution and the Act have made provisions wherein the offspring born to Nepali mothers can easily obtain citizenship certificates at present.
Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Narayan Prasad Bhattarai, suggested installing biometric systems in citizenship. "Citizenship creates an obligation on the State and citizens' rights. All problems will be addressed if the biometric system is adopted in the process of providing the citizenship certificate," he added.
He also suggested that the organizations taking custody of street children should do so by having the related legal documents.
Home Ministry under-secretary Krishna Bahadur Katuwal said the local level should register vital statistics like birth, death, and migration, whether the individual is a foreign or Nepali national.
Taking questions from the participants, Under-Secretary Katuwal said that some questions still needed to be asked of the applicants when distributing citizenship, despite the latter presenting the required documents.
Executive Director of the Forum, Sabin Shrestha, made a presentation on provisions in the Citizenship Act and its implementation. She said children born of a Nepali mother holding citizenship by descent and many single mothers are still having problems acquiring citizenship. She observed that the Citizenship Distribution Directives and the Regulations related to citizenship are still not free from a patriarchal mindset. Shrestha demanded that the delay seen in issuing citizenship, even when the required documents are presented, should be put to an end.
Kumar Joshi, a street child who was taken into custody by an organization in 2057 BS, said he applied for a citizenship certificate in 2069 BS but could not obtain one. He had to move to the Supreme Court before finally getting citizenship after 11 years since he applied for the same.
At the program, the participants narrated various difficulties of not having citizenship that they were facing. They complained that they could not apply for government jobs or open bank accounts as they do not have the citizenship certificate.
They also stressed the need to make provisions for the distribution of citizenship to the members of the LGBTIQ community in a smooth and dignified manner.