October 16, 2014: A press conference was organized jointly by National Women Commission, Women Lawyers Committee (Nepal Bar Association), Civil Society Network on Citizenship Rights and Youth Network of Civil Society Organizations in the hall of National Women Commission, Bhadrakali at 11:00 a.m. The program was chaired by the Chairperson of National Women Commission, Hon’ble Sheikh Chandtara.
Mr. Subin Mulmi from Youth Network of Civil Society Organizations facilitated the program where he updated about the ongoing constitution making process with regard to the citizenship provision. According to him, the previous Constitution Assembly (CA) had passed the proposed provision of “Father AND Mother” in Magh 12, 2067. However, after the immediate adoption of the provision, it was again listed as a disputed issue. On Jestha 2, 2069, the Dispute Settlement Sub-Committee of the Constitutional Committee consented to the provision of citizenship. Considering that the decision of the Sub-Committee was not ratified by the Constitutional Committee, the issue should have remained a disputed issue in the new Constitution Assembly.
The Constitution Record Study and Determination Committee, however included the provision of citizenship under the settled issue and forwarded it to the Constitution Drafting Committee for adoption. The Preamble and Definitions Sub-Committee of the Constitution Drafting Committee while discussing the issue of citizenship passed the provision of “Father AND Mother” and suggested the Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee.
The provision of “Father AND Mother” severely undermines the right of children to receive citizenship as in many cases either father or mother is absent during the citizenship acquisition process. Specifically, in the following circumstances the person will be stateless in Nepal:-
- A person whose father or mother has left the family
- A person born from a divorced family
- A person born as a result of rape
- A person born from a rescued trafficked mother
- A person whose either father or mother works as a migrant worker and has refused to return
- A person whose father marries another woman and disbands all relation from the previous family
- A person whose father refuses to confer citizenship with a reason of denying the child from parental properties
The four core organizations who organized the Press Conference have been advocating for the provision of citizenship through mother for a considerable time and have been directly working with the victims. They have sent four separate memorandums to the Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee. Now, they have decided to undertake a joint campaign against this proposed provision. They revealed that they will soon send a joint memorandum to the Constitutional Drafting Committee and have already started making preparations for a nationwide protest program that covers the entire 75 districts of Nepal. The first phase of the protest will take place on November 15,Â 2014. They also threatened to surround the CA and disrupt the proceedings if their demand was not fulfilled.
Speaking in the program, the Chair of the National Women Commission said, “We organized various meetings with the CA members and are still in the process of organizing further programs with them on citizenship. We support the efforts of the Civil Society and will provide any support necessary to organize the nation wide protest as well.”
Source:Â Subin Mulmi, Youth Network of Civil Society Organizations