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GeneralLiberia news

“New Dual Citizenship Law does not make natural-born 2nd Class Citizen”

Says ALCOD’s Eminent Chairman Emmanuel S. Wettee

The Eminent Chairman of the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD), Eminent Emmanuel S. Wettee, has come up to provide clarity on the new Dual Citizenship Law, saying it does not make natural-born Liberians holding other citizenships lesser citizens than those without.  

Eminent Wettee’s clarification comes in the wake of critics spreading misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the law relating to natural-born Liberians with citizenship of another country holding appointive or elective offices.

“In Article 4 – the law said, ‘Limitation of a Liberian Citizen who holds the citizenship of another country.’ The law did not say limitation of a natural-born Liberian Citizen who holds the citizenship of another country or limitation of a naturalized Liberian citizen who holds the citizenship of another country. The law says a Liberian Citizen, has citizenship of another country. That Liberian citizen could be a natural-born or a naturalized Liberian,” the ALCOD Eminent Chairman argues.

However, according to him, some are interpreting “A Liberian citizen who holds the citizenship of another country…” to mean natural-born Liberians with citizenship of another country and not a naturalized Liberian with citizenship of another country.

Critics of the new law have argued that the law makes natural-born Liberians with citizenship from another country to be second-class citizens in Liberia.

But Eminent Wettee argues that the law did not mention natural-born or naturalized Liberian citizens. It says, “A Liberian citizen who holds the citizenship of another country and that person could be a natural-born or a naturalized Liberian.” It is only in Article 52 of the Liberian constitution that “natural” is used as an adjective to describe a Liberian.

Article 52: “No person shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice-President unless that person is: “A natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age.”

Currently, ALCOD is in consultation with the Commissioner General of Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Colonel Robert W. Budy and Cllr.  Deweh Gray, Deputy Minister of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to develop an operational definition of the law as it relates to their respective offices or jurisdictions.

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The ALCOD Eminent Chairman again extended thanks to Pres. Weah, Cllr. Archibald Bernard, Legal Advisor to Pres. Weah, Members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for the passage of the law. The same to all Partners of ALCOD, sponsors, champions, and advocates of dual citizenship.

ALCOD, which includes the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), Liberian Advocacy for Change (LAFC), Federation of Liberia Communities in Australia (FOLICA), United Liberian Association of Ghana (ULAG), Liberian Association of Canada (LAC), and Conference of Liberian Organizations in Southwestern United States of America (COLOSUS), represents over 500,000 Liberians living in the diaspora.

After lobbying for dual citizenship since 2005 by diaspora Liberians and various organizations, on July 22, 2022, President George Weah signed into law the new dual citizenship act, which was sponsored by ALCOD.  This bill was passed during the 5th Session of the 54th Legislature. It is entitled: “An Act to Amend And/Or Nullify Certain Provision of The Alien and Nationality Law Relating to Citizenship and Restoring the Citizenship Rights Lost As A Consequence of those Provisions”.

The passage of the law received acclamations from many quarters, including the UN. Specifically, on August 11, 2022, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) “applauded Liberia’s historic move breaking the gender barrier to conferring nationality. Gender discrimination in nationality laws remains a primary cause of statelessness among children, and this development speaks to Liberia’s commitment to tackle this issue,” said Gillian Triggs, the UN Refugee Agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

“In short, this law legally allows a child by a Liberian woman to take the citizenship of their mother and be a Liberian, irrespective of the citizenship or nationality of their biological father. This law makes more than 10,000 stateless children born by Liberian women take the citizenship of their mother and now can call themselves Liberian citizens,” Eminent Wettee said.

This law reflects the current reality of Liberian citizens’ definition as a direct result of the 14-year senseless civil war: “A person who is a negro, or of negro descent, born in Liberia, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof at birth; or a person born outside of the Republic of Liberia, whose father or mother (i) was born a citizen of Liberia; or (ii) was citizen of Liberia at the time of the birth of such person.”

Eminent Wettee further stated that the Dual Citizenship Law allows citizenship by adoption, marriage, restores the Liberian citizenship of natural-born Liberians and their children who have citizenship or nationality of another country, gives voting and land ownership rights to Liberians with other citizenship or nationality and above makes “Once a Liberian, always a Liberian.” a reality.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).

One Comment

  1. This law is just and I think we should be thankful to our leaders for it. ALCOD, a big thank you! One can’t have his bread and eat it also.

    For those who think they got half a bread why can’t they go to Liberia and fight for the other half if it is easy?

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