‘Over 5 million people without citizenship’

April 26, 2018

The Kathmandu Post, 26 April 2018

An estimated 5.4 million individuals (24 percent of the population age 16 and over) lack citizenship in Nepal compelling them to experience discrimination in employment, education property ownership and even in receiving disaster relief, says a human rights report.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 released by the United States Department of State on Wednesday claim that constitutional provisions, laws, and regulations governing citizenship discriminated by gender were among factors contributing to statelessness.

The report, which has compiled different aspects of human rights situation in Nepal, says that mothers faced extreme difficulties in securing citizenship papers for children of Nepali parents, even when they possessed Nepali citizenship documents, except in cases where the child’s father supported the application.


“These difficulties persisted despite a 2011 Supreme Court decision granting a child Nepali citizenship through the mother if the father was unknown or absent,” reads the report.


The Supreme Court ruling in May that the government authorities must not deny the registration of birth and citizenship of children of Nepali mothers and fathers who cannot be traced, the report says, it does not address situations in which the father is known but refuses to acknowledge paternity.


“The legal and practical restrictions on transferring citizenship imposed particular hardships on children whose fathers were deceased, had abandoned the family, or (as was increasingly common) departed the country to work abroad,” it adds.


The report has pointed out the continued use of excessive force by security personnel in controlling protests while the government delayed in implementing, providing adequate resources for, and granting full independence to the country’s two transitional justice mechanisms. The report also claims the media faced harassment, self-censorship, and restrictions on online content.


“A lack of prosecution and accountability for cases related to discrimination against women and girls, early and forced marriage, and rape and violence against women; and violence against children continued,” the report claims.


Citing the reports of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the report says Armed Police Force used indiscriminate and excessive force to subdue protesters in Maleth in Saptari last year, killing five and injuring several others.


The report has claimed Kavre District Court’s decision in April 2017 to convict three out of four Nepal Army officers as a “partial victory for conflict victims”. The report has noted the district attorney’s decision not to appeal against the court ruling to acquit Colonel Niranjan Basnet, the only convicted officer still serving with the NA, as a failure to pursue criminal accountability.