All you need to know about Liberia’s new dual citizenship law | Explainer News


The regulation, which ends a 1973 ban on twin nationality, is partly as a consequence of intensive campaigning by Liberians within the diaspora.

Liberia’s president has signed into regulation a invoice that amends the nation’s alien and nationality regulation.

The brand new regulation, signed final Friday, permits twin citizenship by permitting Liberians to carry on to their citizenship after buying a second nationality. Additionally important is that it permits people to say Liberian citizenship by way of their moms.

This new regulation is due partly to intensive campaigning by Liberians within the diaspora – particularly in Europe and the Americas – lots of whom have a second citizenship. That they had a keen ally in President George Weah whose spouse is Jamaican and whose footballer son performs for the US males’s nationwide crew.

Nevertheless it additionally appears to be impressed by the Weah administration naming 2022 as a 12 months of return for these within the diaspora, a transfer just like Ghana’s returnee scheme of 2019.

There’s hope that the brand new regulation will assist spur the return of many and foster brotherhood – but in addition increase tourism.

Of their report, the bicameral parliamentary committee searching for an modification to the previous regulation stated, “Liberia has chosen this 12 months as a interval to re-connect with all individuals of Liberian descent within the diaspora and to welcome all individuals of Negro descent to our nation to take part in its socio-economic improvement, to re-discover its cultural heritage and strengthen its values.”

“It’s mandatory for these amendments to our Alien and Nationality Legislation to be enacted into regulation if we’re to attain the ambition and realise the aspirations now we have set for ourselves in 2022 and past,” the report stated.

Right here’s what you’ll want to know concerning the new regulation.

What was the citizenship scenario earlier than?

  • In 1973, Liberia outlawed twin citizenship and banned non-Blacks from buying citizenship. Liberians who acquired one other citizenship would mechanically lose their Liberian citizenship.
  • The regulation, which Weah has described as “racist” and contradictory to “the definition of Liberia”, was linked to the nation’s historical past of being based by freed slaves from america and the Caribbean.
  • In April 1980, a coup pressured President William Tolbert out of energy, ending greater than a century of political domination by Americo-Liberians, descendants of people that had been enslaved within the Americas. Many felt that Indigenous peoples had been marginalised politically and economically.
  • A 2019 Supreme Court docket judgment held that citizenship is a proper that might not be revoked with out a trial. This ruling meant that Liberians are actually capable of preserve their twin citizenship till their Liberian nationality is challenged in court docket.
  • It’s believed that various residents, particularly within the elite have secretly had twin passports for years.

 Have there been earlier debates on the matter?

  • In 2015, a constitutional evaluate committee additionally voted towards twin citizenship. Previous to that, a invoice that sought to permit for twin citizenship failed in 2008.
  • In a 2018 Afrobarometer survey, two-thirds of Liberians stated they oppose twin citizenship as a matter of nationwide coverage.
  • In 2019, Alvin Teage Jalloh, a Liberian by delivery who grew to become an American citizen whereas residing within the US, requested journey paperwork to journey to Monrovia however the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC, rejected his request. He sued the Liberian authorities, and its apex court docket dominated in his favour – a landmark resolution.
  • Analysts argued that the 2019 Supreme Court docket resolution didn’t grant twin citizenship to all residents however as an alternative rejected the concept that residents needs to be stripped of their Liberian citizenship in the event that they purchase one other.
  • In 2020, regardless of important campaigning by the federal government for a repeal of the previous regulation, Liberians voted towards permitting twin citizenship in a nationwide referendum.

What are the implications of the brand new regulation?

  • Opinions are break up on twin citizenship, largely as a consequence of the truth that citizenship is required for land possession and access to sure jobs. Thus, there’s a perception that the previous regulation protected Liberians from financial domination by better-off foreigners.
  • A ‘Negro clause’ within the  Aliens and Nationality Legislation, stating that solely folks of black African descent will be residents, was untouched.
  • Underneath the brand new regulation, Liberians who’ve misplaced their citizenship on account of getting different passports will now be allowed to reclaim their Liberian citizenship.
  • Moreover, twin residents will now have the ability to legally personal land and interact in companies below the “Liberianisation Coverage,” which restricted sure jobs to Liberians.
  • The brand new regulation might additionally spur a rise in investments from diaspora Liberians now that they will personal land. Diaspora Liberians play an enormous half in Liberia’s financial system – in accordance with the World Financial institution, private remittances accounted for 11 % of the nation’s GDP in 2020.
  • Supporters of the previous regulation have argued that twin residents profit from having second citizenships. In 2013, the pinnacle of the Liberia airport authority Ellen Corkrum, who was additionally an American citizen, evaded prosecution by fleeing to the US amidst an indictment on corruption expenses.
  • Addressing this, the brand new regulation restricts twin residents from occupying elective positions and from being governor of the Central Financial institution, finance minister and defence minister. Twin residents searching for to run for workplace must denounce the citizenship of the opposite nation no less than a 12 months earlier than the date of the election.
  • The brand new regulation additionally grants Liberian citizenship to people with one Liberian guardian, ending the discrimination below the prior regulation that denied that proper to youngsters of a Liberian mom and non-Liberian father.

What have the reactions been?

  • There are Liberians that contend that the invoice ought to have achieved extra. Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian scholar-activist, instructed Al Jazeera that the twin citizenship invoice “advances the aspirations of Liberians overseas with out essentially addressing the anxieties of Liberians at dwelling”.
  • Pailey, an assistant professor of Worldwide Social and Public Coverage on the London Faculty of Economics, additionally stated it might entrench domination by the elite because it “shields political entrepreneurs from competitors by barring twin residents from elected workplace with out defending the nation from divided loyalties”.
  • On Fb, Shiwon Kamara, president of the Union of Liberian Associations within the Americas (ULAA) stated the brand new regulation “is a victory for all Diaspora Liberians”. ULAA has been an enormous campaigner for twin citizenship.
  • “We are actually calling on our brothers and sisters within the diaspora …who took up citizenship” to regain their Liberian paperwork, stated Emmanuel S Wettee, Chairman of the All Liberian Convention on Twin Citizenship.

What subsequent?

  • Jalloh’s citizenship has additionally stirred up one other controversy as political strain teams have been protesting his appointment earlier this 12 months as head of the authorized division of the Liberian electoral fee. The brand new regulation might put an finish to that debate.
  • There have been considerations that the codification of twin citizenship might result in “land grabbing” and financial domination, particularly with the presence of Lebanese and different Asian businessmen within the nation – the emotions of marginalisation that coalesced within the 1980 coup by no means actually left – and trigger a repeat of historical past.

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