Thursday, 4 March, 2021

Citizenship To Orphaned

The term ‘citizenship’ denotes a legal status of a person recognised by a sovereign nation. Citizenship certificate is a state’s membership of an individual, who should show his/her allegiance to motherland. It allows citizens to enjoy rights as well as fulfill their duties to their country as stipulated by the constitution. When the idea of citizenship first developed in the ancient city states of Greek, it amounted to a license of becoming a free person, offering a sense of belonging and unity among the people because non-citizens could be condemned to slavery and would not enjoy state’s facilities. A victorious state could enslave even the entire population of defeated ones. So all populace used to fight tooth and nail against the invading forces to preserve their citizenship. Therefore, freedom and dignity was embedded in the citizenship. In the modern time, it facilitates the people to participate in elections and other decision making process.
Those who have been denied citizenship owing to various reasons have been unable to pursue their higher studies, apply for jobs and get passports. It is a matter of serious concern that hundreds of Nepali street children have not yet acquired citizenship certificates in the absence of birth certificate and father’s citizenship. Many of them are either orphans or born to street-based parents. Existing legal provision states that one must produce birth certificate and father’s citizenship before the concerned government offices to obtain the citizenship certificates. A news report, carried by this daily the other day, describes a plight of a boy, whose dream to be a promising football player has been dashed in the absence of citizenship paper. The 22-year-old was an intelligent student but he could not continue his study after Grade 8 when his mother died some years back. He has mother’s citizenship that was not sufficient for him to get the citizenship. He was pushed from pillar to post to trace his father’s location but he came to know that the separated father had also passed away much to his disappointment. After his attempt to apply for job came to naught, he is now working as a labourer in the street of Kathmandu to earn a living.
There are around 5,000 to 8,000 street children in Nepal, according to some NGOs working in the field but no official data is available to substantiate this number. Nonetheless, one bitter fact is that there is lacking clear legal provision to grant citizenship certificates to the orphaned, abandoned and street children. The government has been rescuing them from the streets as well as tracing their family for securing their birth certificate. It has brought them into children’s homes where they have opportunity to study and get better health facilities. In a similar manner, NGOs are also working hard to provide birth and citizenship certificates to them. It is imperative that all stakeholders should join hands to support these wretched lot pushed onto the streets owing to various factors such as family break-up, demise of their parents, poverty and social disruption. Nepal’s constitution has ensured people’s right to birth and citizenship. It has also a provision to grant citizenship on the basis of mother’s citizenship card. If the elected representatives commit to implementing the constitution in letter and spirit, the street children will not have to be lived as stateless in their own birth land. 

How do you feel after reading this news?