Last February, Bangladesh’s Cabinet approved the Draft Citizenship Bill 2016.This bill was drawn in relation to ‘Setting Up Rules for Bangladeshi Citizenship and Related Matters.’ However, before presenting it to the Cabinet, no public discussion was arranged apparently for the issues regarding the law. It is a well known rule to discuss a law with all the people concerned before passing it. As far as we know, it has been sent to be considered by the Ministry, which is waiting to be issued after a parliamentary discussion and the approval of the President. We appreciate the Government’s initiative to transform the existing legal framework related to the citizenship of Bangladesh into a more convenient system for the present time. However, we are observing with deep worries that some section of the draft bill can potentially turn some people stateless. Besides, the opportunity for second and third generation Bangladeshi expatriates to become citizens will be limited. Since the draft is quite underdeveloped, it clashes against the existing legal framework, especially the rights of citizens secured by our Constitution. On top of all, it contradicts some of the international agreements and declarations on civic and political rights that Bangladesh has signed, which are the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
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