Dhaka, Feb 1: The government on Sunday gave the final approval to the draft of the ‘Bangladesh Citizenship Bill, 2016’, keeping provision that those holding constitutional posts like Supreme Court judges, MPs, members of the armed forces and public services will not be allowed to possess dual citizenship.
Approval of the new law that will expand the scope for dual citizenship for Bangladeshis was given from a regular weekly cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
“The law has also a provision of up to Tk one lakh fine or five years imprisonment or both for persons taking citizenship by submitting false and distorted information by keeping facts hidden,” Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told reporters after the meeting.
The new law widened the scope for dual citizenship, the cabinet secretary said, adding that the law only allowed dual citizenship for Bangladeshis in the US and the UK until now.
He said the draft law has a provision of providing and reinstating the citizenships of Bangladesh to foreign nationals, but those nationals will not be able to contest any parliament election, or election to the post of president, contest the local government polls or form political party, would not become Supreme Court judges or get appointment in any post of the republic.
As per new draft law, Bangladeshis can take dual citizenship those countries which have diplomatic relationship with Bangladesh except those countries including SAARC countries and Myanmar prohibited through gazette notification for taking dual citizenship, Alam said.
The draft says that if a Bangladeshi pledges allegiance to a foreign state ‘directly or indirectly‘, he or she will lose citizenship, said the secretary.
He said any foreign national could be given honorary Bangladeshi citizenship for his or her special qualifications in social, science, literature, world peace, human development and cultural sector or making important contributions towards Bangladesh’s development.
Besides, foreign nationals, married to Bangladeshis, will have to reside in Bangladesh for at least five years to qualify for citizenship, Alam said, adding that until now, the period of residence has been four years.
The Cabinet Secretary said the proposed law has been rearranged after addressing the backdated issues and incompleteness of two existing laws –The Citizenship Act 1951 and the Bangladesh Citizenship Temporary Provisions Order 1972.
According to the cabinet secretary, the law has six chapters and 28 sections which highlight the process for gaining citizenship, disqualification of getting citizenship, renouncing and dissolution of citizenship.
He, however, said, except dual citizenship, if anyone shows allegiance directly or indirectly to other countries, participate in any force in any country and support that force against any war against Bangladesh, illegal migrants living in Bangladesh and those who showed allegiance to other countries except Bangladesh will not get Bangladeshi citizenship.
The meeting also decided to observe March 10 as the National Disaster Preparedness Day every year.
Ministers, State Ministers and Secretaries concerned attended the meeting.