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RCHCO Field Bulletin, 2011 August 15

Access to proof of citizenship was not a central issue in Nepal’s protracted armed conflict nor did the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) explicitly highlight citizenship as a major issue to be addressed as part of the peace process. However, the economic, social and political marginalization of people unable to prove their citizenship weighs heavily on economic and democratic development. The number of people unable to prove their citizenship in the Tarai is high, most of who are poor and uneducated. Regardless of their citizenship status, they are de facto part of Nepali society and their disenfranchisement causes their families and communities to feel excluded. As Nepal consolidates its transition to democracy after a decade-long armed conflict, it is paramount to maximize political, economic and social participation rather than create unnecessary divides. Thus finding durable solutions for people unable to prove their citizenship is critical for Nepal. Addressing the problems faced by people unable to prove their citizenship has been recognized as central for Nepal to succeed in its transition toward sustainable peace2.

The people who are unable to prove their citizenship in Nepal are generally poor, scattered and not in a position to question the status quo. However, some political groups have seized upon the matter as an identity issue, especially when the voting rights of part of their constituency began to be threatened. Voter registration that requires citizenship certificates faced resistance even before the voter registration teams began to cover the lower Tarai belt. In some villages of Parsa, they faced a violent reception3.

The people interviewed for this field bulletin tell the tale of daily obstacles due to lack of citizenship certificates, of missed opportunities when trying to obtain such certificates, insufficient public information and officials facing ambiguous legislation. Often living close to the border and with family links to India, but not from specific minorities, many are confused as to why they are unable to obtain the citizenship certificates which some of their family members possess. This field bulletin also highlights how the problem is worsening with time as the next generation of people is unable to prove their citizenship.

full report: http://www.un.org.np/sites/default/files/2011-08-18-Field-Bulletin-Issue-15.pdf

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