For bold steps on dual citizenship
The National Chairman of the Board of Directors of Unions of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Mr. Alfred Sieh has commended President George Weah for his bold stands on the passage of the dual citizenship bill.
Speaking in an interview with the New Dawn over the weekend, Mr. Sieh said the steps taken by Mr. Weah on the dual citizenship issue are welcoming and would end the discrimination against natural-born Liberians who have acquired citizenship elsewhere.
He said as the law stands it seems to favor foreigners who naturalized as Liberians than natural-born Liberians who have taken up second citizenship in the diaspora.
Delivering his 5th State of the Nation Address a forthright ago, President Weah noted that the country’s current Alien and Nationality Law undermines the quest for unity among Liberians.
The President, therefore, wants a dual citizenship bill before the Liberian Senate passed into Law to prohibit the discrimination against Liberians in the diaspora that have taken up nationalities of those countries.
Liberia’s current Alien and Nationality Law prohibits dual nationality except in limited circumstances. However, there is no specific ban against having multiple nationalities in the constitution. There is also no specific provision allowing dual nationality.
The contradiction between the country’s 1986 Constitution and the Alien and Nationality Law has spurred debate over time which now requires an amendment to ensure that natural-born Liberians with citizenships elsewhere still maintain their citizenships at home.
As the Law stands, it discriminates against Liberians holding citizenship of other countries prohibiting them from fully participating in politics, or any rights enjoyed by natural-born Liberians.
The Supreme Court on December 23, 2019, handed down an opinion, which acknowledged that certain provisions of the Alien and Nationality Law are inconsistent with the Constitution of Liberia.
Thus last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill seeking to amend Part III, Chapter 20, Section 20.1; Chapter 21, Sections 21.30, 21.31, 21.51 & 21.52 and Chapter 22, Sections 22.1, 22.1 & 22.4 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Liberian Code of Law Revised, Vol. II.
According to the crafters of the bill, the current law as it exists is repugnant to and is inconsistent with Article 11 (b) &(C), 27 and 28 relating to equal protection under the law (Fundamental Rights) and citizenship.
They also argued that those inconsistencies as observed, the framers of the 1986 Constitution requested the legislature to prescribe other standards and criteria and procedures by which Liberian citizenship may be obtained.
According to them, the amendment or repeal of these laws will satisfy the constitutional provision of Article 2 (2) of the 1986 Constitution which states: Any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs, and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect. The Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional.
Mr. Sieh says, he hopes that the Liberian Senate would concur with the Lower House to put this discrimination to an end.
Giving an upbeat appraisal of discrimination in Liberia against Liberians, he said when the freed slaves arrived in Liberia, the dark skin ones were discriminated against by the light skin ones.
He said after the dark skin took over, they also discriminated against the indigenous people. The indigenous people were not allowed to vote until after the first 100 years. Today, he argued, the discrimination is now being perpetrated by Liberians home against those in the diaspora that by privileges took up citizenships to pursue their dreams.
Sieh pointed out that what the Liberian Government needs to do now is to strengthen the extradition treaties it has with other countries where Liberians have taken up citizenships to be able to extradite them to face trial back home if they commit a crime and run back to their countries of naturalization.
He said putting in place certain restrictions against diaspora Liberians as being touted by some politicians will not be the answer as compared to strengthening these extradition treaties.
Though they (Diaspora Liberians) face discrimination back home, they currently contribute 25% of revenue to the Liberian economy through remittances.
Sieh says many of them are willing and ready to invest in the county but with such uncertainty, they are afraid to invest in a country that has robbed them of their citizenships.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/alcods-wettee-commends-pres-weah-on-making-dual-citizenship-a-national-agenda-item/-By Othello B. Garblah