A group of Liberians in the Diaspora have called for the repeal of Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law of the Republic of Liberia.
The call was issued at the end of a conference on dual citizenship in the United States.
The law was amended in 1974, and the Diaspora Liberians said, “It does not allow Liberians to retain their citizenship when they become citizens by birth and naturalization in the countries they domicile.”
In a petition released last week, a copy of which was forwarded to the Daily Observer for publication, they called on the legislature to repeal the law in order to allow Liberians who traveled to other countries as a result of the civil-war, and gained citizenship by naturalization to regain their Liberian citizenship.
The petition, signed by Mr. Emmanuel S. Wettee, chairman of the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, said the turbulent social and political changes from 1980 to 2004 that forced hundreds of thousands of Liberians to become citizens, were not envisioned by the architects of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law.
The petition said, “The 1973 Alien and Nationality Law states that Liberians that naturalize abroad are not only stripped of their Liberian citizenship, but are also precluded from owning land or other real estate in their native homeland as stated in Chapter III Article 22 (a) of the 1986 constitution of Liberia.”
Therefore, the release said, the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law is in violation of Articles 11 (c), 20 (a) and 95 (a) of the Liberian Constitution because it discriminates on the basis of gender, automatically imposes loss of citizenship without the institution of any proceedings by the government, which is contrary to due process, and is inconsistent with the 1986 constitution.
They further stated, “Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law contravenes Article 27(a) of the 1986 Constitution, which states that ‘All persons who, on the coming into force of this Constitution were lawfully citizens of Liberia shall continue to be Liberian citizens.”
The Diaspora Liberians said Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law is unjust and violates fundamental rights, including the right to citizenship, as enshrined in various international treaties to which Liberia is a signatory.
Citing the constitutional violations in the Alien and Nationality Law, the Diaspora Liberians said, “Section 21.30 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law further discriminates against Liberian women by providing a pathway to citizenship for foreign spouses of Liberian men without providing a similar pathway to citizenship for foreign spouses of Liberian women.”
The Diaspora Liberians said restoring their citizenship offers advantages to broadening Liberia’s economic base, foster trade and investment, and provides opportunities for Liberians in their host countries to influence economic and development decisions in favor of Liberia.
They said the attainment of citizenship in foreign lands has enabled many Liberian immigrants to secure employment and gain wealth, knowledge and thereby remit over 1 billion U.S. dollars to family members during the civil war, and they continue to transfer tens of millions of dollars each year back to Liberia to stimulate the Liberian economy.
“We also call on the legislature to repeal the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law to provide for children born outside Liberia to Liberian mothers to become citizens of Liberia, enjoying the same rights currently reserved for children born outside Liberia to Liberian fathers, and to allow for children born to at least one citizen parent to automatically retain his/her citizenship without taking an oath of allegiance before or after attaining his/her majority,” the petition said.