4.6m Nepalis without citizenship, report claimsAs the citizenship provision in the new constitution is being contested on the grounds of gender equality, a new report suggests that around 0.9 million individuals, who are eligible for citizenship, are living with single parent.
As the citizenship provision in the new constitution is being contested on the grounds of gender equality, a new report suggests that around 0.9 million individuals, who are eligible for citizenship, are living with single parent.
The citizenship law requires a woman to prove that the whereabouts of her husband are unknown to pass on citizenship to her child, while the provision is silent on the case of single male parent.
Census 2011 has recorded 161,231 widowers and 498,606 widows (around 0.65 million single parents). There are also an estimated 23,000 divorced and 40,000 separated couples.
A report titled “Acquisition of citizenship certificates in Nepal: Estimation and projection” released on Tuesday by the Forum for Women Law and Development, an NGO, has also revealed that 4.6 million people above 16 years of age have no citizenship certificate. The number accounts for 22.82 percent of the total population.
According to Sabin Shrestha, one of the researchers, the report is based on the number of individuals who lack citizenship certificates that has been estimated using the population growth rate determined by the 2011 census and the total number of citizenship certificates distributed each year. The population growth rate was also was taken into consideration.
The report has used the census data of the Central Bureau of Statistics, records of citizenship certificate distribution from 1952 to 2011 from the Home Ministry, National Population and Housing Census, and Population Perspective Plan 2010-2031 of the Ministry of Health and Population, among others.
The study has the limitation of not verifying the persons who received the certificate in one district and moved to another district later. The Census has also not taken this into account. The next is the Home Ministry not taking the mortality data into account, said Shrestha.
The report also projects that the number of people without citizenship certificates will be between 4.9 million and 6.7 million in 2021.
Citizenship certificate is the primary identity and is the basis for acquiring other identity documents, enrolling on the voter list, registering marriage, buying or selling land and even opening a bank account.
Stakeholders claim that the constitution has made some headway in ensuring citizenship and that the laws that will be formulated on the basis of the constitution must also ensure that children of either a Nepali father or mother are not left stateless.
The new citizenship laws should have no discriminatory provisions on the grounds of gender that have created a huge gap between the number of stateless women and men, said Sapana Pradhan Malla, a lawyer. Articles 10 and 38.1 of the new constitution guarantee the right to citizenship. The report also suggests that the government continue integrated mobile camps and citizenship certificate distribution campaigns which it had conducted in 2013. More than 1,126,430 individuals had benefited from the mobile citizenship certificate distribution campaign.
However, the Home Ministry has questioned the data and sampling of the research. “Those eligible should go to obtain the citizenship. The government
does not distribute citizenship without verification. It’s an issue only if the state has denied citizenship,” said ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal. Those attaining 16 years of age should go to obtain citizenship, he said. “If there is an issue of birth certificate, it can be discussed.”
- 0.9 million individuals eligible for citizenship living with single parent
- Constitution requires a woman to prove that the whereabouts of her husband are unknown to pass on citizenship to her child
Home Ministry clarifies
- Those eligible should go to obtain their citizenship