Sunday, 19 September, 2021

Naturalised citizenship quandary haunts lawmakers


By Ranju Kafle

Kathmandu, Sept.15: The quandary regarding what kinds of rights should be given to the naturalised citizens has given a tough time to the lawmakers in House of Representatives (HoR). The party, gender and geography wise interests on the provision of naturalised citizenship has continued to disrupt the amendment procedure of ‘Citizenship Act’ in its subject committee.
The State Affairs and Good Governance Committee is now bracing for a vote-division method for settling the dispute after having several unsuccessful attempts made to get a common understanding on the issue of naturalised citizenship.
Committee chair Sashi Shrestha said that they were trying their best for reaching a common understanding among stakeholders. “Providing equal or limited rights to the naturalised citizenship bearer is a sensitive issue but we have limited time to work on that,” she said. According to her the government had a target to endorse Citizenship Act within running House session.
Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is worried on the sensitiveness on distributing citizenship for the foreigners in the border points where other opposition parties are opposing the matter. The issue of national security, national sovereignty and border safety is interlinked with it, some NCP leaders said.
Though the NCP has not made public its official stance on the issue yet, lawmakers representing the party have been advocating for maintaining strict limitations. They view that drafting a weak document can assist on providing citizenship to the foreigners.
“We have small population compared to our neighbours with huge population. The mere one per cent population of these neigbhours can easily disturb our internal harmony we have been enjoying now,” lawmaker Pampha Bhusal said.
For now, the constitution allows every married woman to apply for naturalised citizenship immediately after her marriage on the basis of marriage registration. The government has suggested obtaining evidence of abundance of previous national cards within six months of applicants to become the naturalised citizen.
The house has the options to continuing with the same provision, drafting new one or accepting the suggestions of the government is the options now. But lawmaker Jhapat Rawal said that 10 or 15 years residential duration with proofs should be ensured to provide marriage-based naturalised citizenship for the foreigners. Giving citizenship immediately after marriage was not appropriate, said Rawal adding from the 3rd generation onwards naturalised citizenship bearer can process for citizenship.
However, main opposition Nepali Congress, Socialist Party and RJPN were scouting for the continuity on the existing provision. The women leaders including pressure groups are advocating for feminine aspect regarding the marriage-based naturalised citizenship.
Lawmaker Dila Sangraula expressed her concern on the women aspects. “Let’s adjust all problems women has to face to get citizenship,” she said.
Among several causes, the provision of providing naturalised citizenship for the married foreign men/women with Nepali man/women and its limitations is the most sensible dispute. The act has a provision of providing by virtue, by birth and naturalizing citizenship for the citizens in the country.
Though it is the most talked issue since long, it could not still gather a common consent among lawmakers yet.
In India, people has to wait for seven years to appeal for naturalised citizenship, in Bhutan they have to give birth to a child to get this citizenship and in the Maldives, 12 year duration standard has been maintained.