Senate Receives Citizenship Clause for Debate

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Sen H. Dan Morais

Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais, has submitted to the Senate for debate an Act: “The Dual Citizens and Nationality Law of 2019.”

Sen. Morais, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a letter to his colleagues that the Act is a proposition intended to form part of other propositions for onward submission to the Liberian people in the pending referendum.

The current Article 28 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia reads: “Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the Person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.”

The Maryland County lawmaker, who is also a former superintendent, emphasized that the key word in his bill is the word “RENOUNCE,” which is so clear that one does not need to be a rocket scientist to comprehend by purpose and intent that the article forbids the holding of Liberian citizenship while holding on to one of another country.”

Therefore, Morais maintained, “If the 21st century Liberia should permit dual citizenship, which I think should be considered in some form by leaps and bounds, there is the need to the first amendment Article 28 of the 1986 Constitution to permit the exercise to be discussed comprehensively and considered.”

Consequently, Sen. Morais concluded, “I am submitting Article 28 of the 1986 Constitution to read thus: “Any person, at least one of whose parents is a citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth shall remain a citizen of Liberia. Any such person shall upon reaching maturity continue to be a citizen of Liberia. Citizenship by birth shall remain a right and no citizen of Liberia shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law, and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality. This law is applicable to only citizens by birth and naturalized citizens of Negro decent of Liberia.”

It can be recalled that early January 2018, Senators H. Varney Sherman, Geraldine Doe-Sherif, and Armah Zolu Jallah submitted a bill on the Alien & Nationality Law. A debate on that article raised contention from Sen. Morais, who described an amendment on that Bill by the Judiciary Committee as “plagiary.” Now, just about a year later, Sen. Morias is proffering his version.

It can also be recalled that days after the three Senators had submitted the Act on the Alien & Nationality Law, President George Weah in his first Annual Message (Legislative Agenda to the 54th Legislature), called for the amendment of that provision of the Constitution, saying “such does not need to exist in the 21st Century.”

During his presentation on the Act calling for Amendment in the Alien and Nationality, and Dual Citizenship Law last January, Senator Sherman described those laws as “inhumane, cruel and are contrary to the new terms of nationality concepts and practices.”

14 COMMENTS

  1. It seems that lawmakers and executive of Liberia who keep introducing this dual bill have been or are victims of oppression in the United States and other parts of the world which they hope children they have by birth in these places will one day become citizens. We must rule out dual citizenship. It will enslave our future generation to foreign parts. It was before in Liberia and Cape Palmas did join the commonwealth, now Maryland to avoid human trafficking and white slave enrichment. It will encourage slave sellers to come back to sell slaves in Africa along their counter parts including natives involved. It will foster tribalism in the odes. If our children become of age, they will decide their future or identity themselves if some have both or many or different parental identities. Ones Identity is not a hidden compartment. It is easily found by blood, even if a country is country, you can easily tell. What if some from the same tribes or nationalities do not want to be American? Or Liberians, what can you do about that? Also, can you make a black a white? Can you again make an Ashanti a Krahn be Bassa or kpelleh? etc…..other tribes? Can a Gio be an Ebo? Suppose some were differently connected would you want to force their dual contacts if they do not need to? Not everything that may work for other nations will work for Liberia. Let the constitution remain as it is or face the consequences of blood shed as was during the civil war derived from tampering with established laws made by our founders. Lawmakers, Judges, and Executives of Liberia should review past and present laws that will more or less improve the present conditions of the nation its infrastructures and human development instead bills and issues that will once again bring crisis of division again in this nation. Such Officials are suspects of the non decided and may very much deceive the future of the Liberian nation. We will not allow this to happen. Tell the Liberian people. Do not answer me.
    Gone to silent majority.

  2. most countries have dual citizenship. what are the lawmakers afraid of ……EDUCATED LIBERIANS IN THE DIASPORA ARE NOT STUPID AND YOU CANNOT FOOL THEM LIKE YOU DO THE NATIVE LIBERIANS LIVING IN HUTS.

  3. We have a pending referendum that has the issue of dual citizenship; why are lawmakers doing this in piece meal?
    Push the referendum bill instead.

  4. The world is a global village, citizenship will not protect your share of the economic pie. We must step up and compete and stop hiding behind citizenship. Nigerians, Ghanaian, Guinean and Lebanese come to Liberia and are eating our pie despite not having citizenship. Were I worked, the entire upper management were from East Africa because truly they had the expertise. They were not citizen. Denying anyone citizenship will not protect your land nor your job. The invisible hands determines all that. Finally, Does it make sense to deny someone who was a Liberian Dual Citizenship but give the same to a Guinean/Nigerian/Ghanaian?

    • I hear ha Sis. Martha. First off, technology turned the world into a global village, not global citizenship(s). Had the latter been the case, Liberians wouldn’t be on TPS/DED for almost two decades. Those qualified would have all been granted citizenship. Racism is still alive, protectionism and nationalism have returned big time too. The POT in the US is not melting these days. The Immigration discourse has changed globally. Liberia needs to put its citizens first just as its being done around the world. Liberians who sought refuge due to the wars should be allowed to become dual citizens. The country will benefit because only Liberians will truly develop the country.

      Second, we must make our citizens competitive through through education and access to resources, Improve our legal System to completely do away with impunity and corruption. Create a vibrant middle class in the country. With all these in place, 50 years down the line, reintroduce the debate for a bi-racial society. Most Liberians might embrace the idea. If you try it right now, most Liberians don’t trust their leaders.Most believe that they could lose their land to the highest bi-racial bidders with good bribes. So, Let’s sit down first before we stretch our legs. You can’t stretch your legs while standing up.

      Don’t get me wrong. I love diversity but most racially diverse countries have LAWS that one one can mess with. The US is an example.Do you know how many Liberians who tried to transplant corrupt practices are in jail in the US?

      • Well when you are born in the US, regardless of the origin or immigration status of your parents you’re automatically a citizen. How do you explain that to support your comment?

  5. Oh Daily Observer! Make it possible for us to edit our postings when errors are made.

    Second to the last line in my posting should read” I love diversity but most racially diverse countries have LAWS that no one can mess with.

  6. The U.S. dollars cannot always be the trade mark for this nation. Some of its cultural exchange were already enhanced in the formulation of this nation when our forefathers and founders established its nomenclature. Reason why Liberia is called Liberia and still exist today. It seems as thou some lawmakers may not yet know the difference between the Liberian and Jamaican exchange. Liberian dollar values more the Jamaican dollar. Maybe these Officials in business should send some of their person Liberian monies to Jamaica to profiteer. Liberian Government does not operate on cash like Jamaica. Liberian public funding is based on accruals. There are many nations around the world we can exchange relationships with. Yet we will not confine our Liberian identity to enrich two or more reversals. Let the public know. Do not answer me or chat with me.
    Gone to silence in meditation.

  7. A wise person once said, “Laws are not invented; they grow out of circumstances.”

    Liberians cannot continue to practice archaic laws (racist law & denial of dual citizenship) at the same time expect rapid development, high employment growth, and foreign investments to pour into Liberia while Liberia lawmakers continue to ostracize their fellow Liberians living in the Diaspora from obtaining dual citizenship. Many of these Liberians living in the Diaspora obtained foreign citizenship due to circumstances beyond their control.

    Here are some countries in Africa that are taking necessary steps in this modern era to utilize talents of their citizens living in the Diaspora by granting them dual citizenship, and by granting citizenship (regardless of race) to those who meet the necessary criteria as stipulated below:

    Sierra Leone

    In 2007, Sierra Leone officially adopted dual citizenship. The bill was passed as an amendment to the 1973 Citizenship Act, in November 2006. Under the amended law, citizens can retain their citizenship status or restore it if they had lost the status under the previous law.

    Ghana

    Ghana adopted the Dual Citizenship Act in 2000 which allows Ghanaians to hold other citizenship. The law provides for non-Ghanaians who reside in the country to apply for citizenship by registration. Individuals can also apply for Ghanaian citizenship if they have contributed in any documented area that promotes national interest. In 2002, parliament passed the Citizenship Act 2002 (Act 591), which allows individuals with U.S. Citizenship to apply for dual citizenship.

    Ivory Coast

    Ivory Coast, a leading producer of cocoa, accepted dual citizenship in 2004. It can be acquired by birth. Children born in the nation to foreign parents can acquire the citizenship of Ivory Coast. In August 2013, parliament passed legislation that allows foreigners to acquire Ivorian citizenship upon marrying an Ivory Coast citizen. The law also allows foreign-born citizens who have lived in the West African nation before independence to become citizens alongside their descendants. Individuals born in the nation between 1961 and 1973 and their children also qualify for citizenship.

    Nigeria

    Nigeria adopted dual citizenship in 1999 under the leadership of former President General Ibrahim Babangida. According to the law, any person who is a Nigerian citizen by birth can acquire citizenship of other countries.

    Benin

    Foreigners born in Benin are able to acquire Benin citizenship if their parents are stateless or unknown. Foreigners must have legally resided in the nation for at least 10 years in order to qualify for Benin citizenship.

    Namibia

    Namibia accepted dual citizenship in June 2011. The High Court in Windhoek ruled that Namibian citizens by birth can apply for dual citizenship. The ruling effectively changed Section 26 of the Namibian Citizenship Act which had prohibited dual citizenship to Namibian citizens by birth.

    Uganda

    The Uganda parliament enacted the dual citizenship law in 2009, in an amendment to the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control (Amendments) Act 2009. Uganda only allows for individuals to hold citizenship of two countries. Individuals must be granted dual citizenship in the other country in order to be approved as Ugandan citizens.

    Kenya

    On Aug. 27 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution that allows dual citizenship under due process outlined in the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011. All individuals who had applied for citizenship of other countries before the new constitution lost their Kenyan citizenship but can regain it through a process outlined in the law.

    Zimbabwe

    Zimbabwe only allows citizens born in the country or whose parents were born there to apply for dual citizenship. In June 2014, a constitutional court endorsed unrestricted entitlement to dual citizenship to all Zimbabwean citizens.

    Burundi

    Burundi Parliament passed legislation that allows dual citizenship on May 3, 2000. The law was passed primarily to help address the issue of Burundians who lost their citizenship after seeking asylum in other countries due to the civil strife in 1970s. It was passed before a peace accord was signed to end years of civil conflict in the tiny nation.

    If Liberia really wants to modernize and catch up with the rest of developed countries, it is time for Liberia Lawmakers and citizens to study the benefits these African countries gained by implementing dual citizenship and naturalization laws regardless of race.

    Remember, the wise person once said, “Laws (in Liberia) are not invented; they grow out of circumstances.”

    Therefore, dual citizenship should be granted to Liberians living in the diaspora out of circumstances because circumstances forced our Liberian brothers and sisters living in the Diaspora to obtain foreign citizenship.

    Source on dual citizenship: Moguldom.com (July 15,2016)

  8. A time will surely come when Liberians will have the luxury of Dual Citizenship, no matter how hard others try to make it difficult. Senator Morias has said over and over again that he prefers granting dual citizenship to a white man than to his own Liberians with citizenship of other countries.

    I hope the senator’s hardened heart will eventually evolve into a more conciliatory part of his being!

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