To begin with, let it be cleared that I am not against the passage of the clarion call for dual citizenship by some members of our national legislature and also buttressed by our President.
My reason is not driven by the enhancement of our national development as asserted by subscribers making reference to some African countries but yet to specifically pinpoint any positive correlation between the enactment of dual citizenship and development. A research conducted in 2013 by a Liberian PhD. Student from London revealed that no evidence of a positive correlation between the passage of Ghana’s dual citizenship legislation in 2002 and increased economic development in the country.
Similarly, the passage of the dual citizenship law in Sierra Leone only increased numbers of Parliamentarians from abroad and failed to identify the number of Sierra Leonean dual citizens who have established businesses in the country, or successfully served in the private and public sectors.Robtel Neajai Pailey (2013) My reason stems from the prolonged civil conflict that forced Liberians into exile in which some have no alternative but to pick up another citizenship to afford the privilege forbetter education critical for nation building. Denying them the opportunity to contribute their quota to our post conflict reconstruction to me is tantamount to discrimination.
For the benefit of some of our readers yet to read about the proposed amendment of two provisions or sections contained in the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia, let’s utilize this platform for enlightenment.
For part III-NATIONALITY AND NATURALIZATION Chapter 20: Nationality at Birth 20., the amendment reads: The following shall be citizen of Liberia at birth: A person who is a Negro or of Negro descent, born in Liberia and subject to the jurisdiction thereof; A person born outside Liberia whose father or mother(i) Was born a citizen of Liberia;(ii) Was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the birth of such child; and(iii) Had resided in Liberia prior to the birth of such child Note: The major amendment here is that a child born of a Liberian father and Liberian mother is a Liberian citizen subject to the above jurisdiction. In the current Law, only a Liberian father is recognized.
For CHAPTER 22: LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP 22.1: ACT CAUSING LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP, the amendment reads: Act Causing Loss of Citizenship (a). From and after the effective date of this title, NO PERSON who is a citizen of Liberia at birth shall lose his/her citizenship for reasons of marriage to a citizen of a foreign state; naturalization in a foreign state or naturalization of a parent or parents in another state; taking an oath or making an affirmation or declaration of allegiance to a foreign state; entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state or voting in a political election in a foreign state; (b). From and after the effective date of this title, Liberian Citizenship by Birth is hereby restored to any person who was citizen by birth and who lost his/her citizenship under the old Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia; (c). By the passage of this Act, the Republic of Liberia SHALL RECOGNIZE “DUAL CITIZENSHIP” in which a citizen of Liberia at birth may become a citizen of another state without LOSING his/her CITIZENSHIP of Liberia; (D). This Law shall apply only to a person who is a Liberian Citizen at birth. ANY LAW TO THE CONTRARY IS NOTWITHSTANDING.
In order to explain my fear, let me apology for citing example (s) that many people may not like. It is to help justify my argument so we can see the rationale. My intention is not to appear political or damaging.
From the history of our fight against corruption, some of the people accused of embezzlement of state funds or money traveled to the United State of America for save haven without desiring visa which indicate that they have American Passport or what is often called permanent resident status.
Many of us are aware about Ellen Corkrum, the former Boss for Robert International Airport (RIA) that misappropriated over hundred thousand United States dollars for renovation work at the RIA and fled to the United States of America.
It was later that many Liberians realized her status as American citizen. Imagine this happened while the passage of the Act was being debated in many quarters including the diaspora.
Will not the passage of the dual citizenship Act provide save haven for people accused of corruption that does not require the diaspora visa? This is my fear. If the practice of extradition treaty will be used to allay my fear, I will still have a reservation. In my candid opinion, the treaty of extradition which is more political has ramifications that must be addressed. In other words, the treaty of extradition between two states does not necessarily mean that one of the states will adhere to the request from another state party to the treaty. I think the right as a sovereign state comes into play in situation where it is perceived that fair trial will not be accorded. This suggests the definition of fair trial according to normative frameworks that may not agree with the normative frameworks of the requesting state.
This is the situation the United States of America is currently facing with other states for the extradition of Edward Snowden accused for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) to the mainstream media in June 2013.
Despite the extradition treaty between Hong Kong and the U.S., Hong Kong as a sovereign state did not honor the request on grounds that Snowden allegation serves the political interest of Hong Kong. Precisely, he managed by way of convincing evidence from the classified leakage that the United States government has committed a tremendous number of crimes against Hong Kong.
Granted this example has nothing to do with dual citizenship. However, you may agree with it as the reservation for extradition that could be used in the case of Liberia as the possible or best remedy.
In summation, the move and lobby for dual citizenship I think is necessary for the rebuilding of Liberia as such; it deserves meticulous interrogation so as to ensure that the obvious disadvantage(s) cannot outweigh the obvious advantage(s). Those having the legitimate responsibility for passing the law or Act must not only look at other countries for empirical evidence. They must bear in mind the histories and development trajectories that may not reflect or typify our Liberian scenarios.
By Ambrues M. Nebo
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