A group of Liberians are demanding a repeal of Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law of the Republic of Liberia, as amended in 1974 arguing the law does not allow for Liberians to retain their citizenship upon becoming citizens by birth, naturalization or other means of foreign lands.
Under the banner The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship the group in a petition is calling on the National Legislature to repeal the law and allow Liberians who travelled outside the country due to the turbulent war period in the country to regain their Liberian citizenship after the crisis forced them to take other nationalities.
The group stated “whereas, the turbulent social and political changes from 1980 to 2004 which forced hundreds of thousands of Liberians to become citizens, refugees and immigrants in foreign lands were not envisioned by the architects of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law and Constitution”.
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.
According to the group the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law is in violation of Articles 11 (c), 20 (a) and 95 (a) of the National Constitution in that it discriminates on the basis of gender, automatically imposes loss of citizenship without the institution of any proceedings by the government which the group stated is contrary to the due process, and is inconsistent with the 1986 National Constitution.
“Whereas Chapter 22 of the 1973Alien and Nationality Law, contravenes Article 27(a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia 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 All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship stated.
The group of Liberians are contending that 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 signatory.
The group is also citing constitutional violations in the Alien and Nationality Law, which it says must be repealed to give Liberians their rights.
“Section 21.30 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law further unconstitutionally 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”, stated the group. Restoring citizenship for Diaspora Liberians offers advantages of broadening our country'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, the group maintains.
The group also indicated that 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 suffering family members during the civil war, and to continue to transfer tens of millions of dollars each year back to Liberia to support family members and stimulate the battered Liberian economy, share their expertise in health, educational, business, sports institutions.
Legislature must repeal
In the petition, the group is demanding that the National Legislature to repeal the law as soon as possible.
“Now therefore, we hereby call on the Liberian National Legislature to repeal the1973 Alien and Nationality Law to allow for the retention of Liberian citizenship by Liberians who naturalized in a foreign state, take an oath or make an affirmation of allegiance to a foreign state, vote to elect the sovereign of a foreign state, enter or serve in the armed forces of a foreign state or marry a citizen of a foreign state or born in foreign lands to the union of a Liberian parent” the group demands.
The group also called on the National Legislature to repeal without Chapter 22 of the 1973Alien and Nationality Law regarding loss of citizenship for Liberians.
Further stated the group “We also call on the Liberian National 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 issues of dual citizenship has been a major debate in Liberia as some government officials have been denied jobs in government on the basis of holding dual citizenship. Others have made their way in government, despite having dual citizenship.