Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has warned that naturalised citizenship could jeopardise the country’s national interests and security.
Thapa’s statement comes at a time when the country is debating the legal and constitutional provisions for issuing naturalised citizenship.
Some argue that the new provision of issuing naturalised citizenship soon after a foreigner marries a Nepali man could hit national interests while women and other rights activists have demanded equal rights on acquiring citizenship at par with their male counterparts.
The government has registered a proposal to amend the Citizenship Act-2006 for introducing a provision for issuing naturalised citizenship to a foreign woman married to a Nepali man, requiring her to renounce her original citizenship within six months. As per the proposed provision, her citizenship would be revoked if she failed to produce the documents of relinquishing her previous citizenship.
Many women and Madhesi lawmakers are against the requirement and are demanding easier provisions to acquire naturalised citizenship.
However, Home Minister Thapa defended the government’s stance claiming that it was a serious and sensitive issue.
Responding to the queries of lawmakers during a discussion on the bill to amend the Citizenship Act at a meeting of the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee on Sunday, Thapa urged lawmakers to think seriously about issuing citizenship also to non-resident Nepalis.
Admitting that many non-Nepalis had got naturalised citizenship mostly from teams mobilised by the Home Ministry earlier, Thapa said hundreds of thousands of such certificates need scrutiny.
“Citizenship is related to national identity, security and integration. It’s also related to empowering citizens,” Thapa said, adding that national security and integrity could be in peril if the issue of naturalised citizenship was not addressed properly.
As many as 102 revisions have been sought to the government’s amendment proposal. Many members of the committee including Rekha Sharma, Krishna Gopal Shrestha, Janardan Sharma, Jhapat Rawal, Yashoda Subedi Gurung, and Pampha Bhusal have demanded thorough discussion on the amendment bill since the issue was of grave national concern. They demanded tough measures for issuing citizenship.
Addressing the meeting, lawmaker Jhapat Rawal demanded that the government reveal how many people received citizenship on the basis of birth and annul all the cards issued to non-Nepalis against fake documents.
“Such citizenships should be annulled by forming a judicial probe committee,” Rawal demanded.
All the lawmakers speaking on Sunday were for barring foreigners from acquiring Nepali citizenship while not depriving any Nepali citizen of the recognition. The meeting also decided to discuss the issue with the lawmakers who have sought changes in the proposal.