Monrovia — The distinguished Chairman of the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD), Mr. Emmanuel S. Wettee is appealing to the Liberian Senate to please concord with the House of Representatives on the passage of the Dual Citizenship Bill that was recently passed by the House.
The bill, which sailed smoothly through the House, was intended to amend and or repeal some parts of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia.
Specially, the bill sought to repeal 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.
The bill was championed by Montserrado County Electoral District #8 Representative Acarous Moses Gray and was co-sponsored by 30 of his colleagues, including Deputy House Speaker Jonathan Fonati Koffa.
In his appeal to the Senate, Eminent Wettee urged members of the Senate to please concord with the House on the passage into law of the bill.
Since 2000, some members of the Senate, had on many ocassions, introduced amendments to the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law on the Senate floor and those never passed.
The amendments had been submitted by Senators Cletus Wortoson of Grand Kru County, Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and recently Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.
While the Senate is yet to take any major action on the ones their colleagues have been submitting, the House has now passed a version and has sent it to the Senate for concurrence.
According to reports from the Senate, some feel that the permanent solution to dual citizenship problem is the amendment of the constitution (Articles 27 and 28) through a national referendum.
"We do agree with those who think that amending the Constitution through a national referendum is the permanent solution to resolving the issue of dual citizenship. However, we also encourage the repealing of the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law that has to do with citizenship and in conflict with the Constitution of Liberia," Eminent Wettee said. According to Eminent Wettee, plans are in placed to hopefully have the issue resolved in a national referendum in 2023.
According to many lawmakers, diaspora Liberians, political leaders, students, civil organizations and Liberian mothers, the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law is obsolete, discriminatory and in conflict with the constitution of Liberia. The Supreme Court of Liberia has nullified Section 22.2 of the law. This law does not give a Liberian mother the right to pass on her citizenship to her child of birth or adopted child.
The American Bar Association's Rule of Law Initiative in a report: "ANALYSIS OF THE ALIENS AND NATIONALITY LAW OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA - May 2009," listed the discriminatory attributes of the law.
Many lawmakers, who are prepared to vote and repeal the law have said that the sole purpose of the law was to prevent progressive Liberians from the diaspora from participating in the political landscape in Liberia in the 1970's.
In the 1970's, many Liberians in the diaspora and political leaders were returning home. In addition, the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Student Unification Party (SUP) and other progressive organizations were founded in the 1970's as a check to the political establishment.
To prevent, control or manage the influence of diaspora Liberians from participating in the political process, Title 3 of the Liberian Code of Laws of 1956, known as the Aliens and Nationality Law, was amended through the Fourth Regular Session of the Forty-Fifth Legislature, and repealed, and enacted in lieu thereof a new Aliens and Nationality Law, to be Title 4 of the Liberian Code of Laws Revised. "TITLE 4 Aliens and Nationality Law was approved: May 15, 1973, and Amendments approved May 9, 1974"
Members in the House have concluded that all Liberians and every Liberian have a part to play or share in the development of Liberia therefore, "Once a Liberian Always a Liberian."
One lawmaker, who was a progressive leader, community leader, a student leader, said that he can't comprehend that Liberia, Africa's first independent and democratic Republic and founding member of UN, OAU, AU, ECOWAS, etc, still has such a law on the book.
"It is about time that this law be repealed. This law anti to the growth and development of Liberia. And above all in conflict with the constitution," the lawmaker stressed.
The Law Passed in the House
Rep. Gray submitted the Bill on Friday, October 29, and it was read on the House's floor on Tuesday, November 2nd, and forwarded to the Committee on Judiciary to report back to Plenary within one week.
The HOR passed the bill into law on Thursday, Nov. 11, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence. There are reports that Rep. Gray, who is a very staunch member of President George Weah's ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), had scripted on his bill: "Once a Liberian always a Liberian."
Rep. Gray, who is the Chairman on the House's Committee on Executive, believes that this will satisfy the constitutional provision in Article 2 of the 1986 Liberian 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 bill that Rep. Gray championed in the HOR, was done under the auspices of The All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD), which includes the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), Liberian Advocacy for Change (LAFC), Federation of Liberia Communities in Australia (FLCA), United Liberian Association of Ghana (ULAG), Liberian Association of Canada (LAC), and Conference of Liberian Organizations in Southwestern United States of America (CLOSUSA). ALCOD represents more than 500,000 Liberians living in the diaspora.
Meanwhile, ALCOD has extended their thanks and appreciation to all the 73 members of the HOR, including the Speaker, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, Deputy Speaker, Mr. Koffa and Rep. Gray for doing all to make some of their fellow Liberians in the diaspora, to still maintain their Liberian citizenship even though they (diaspora Liberians) also carry the passports of other nations.
ALCOD also thanked President George Weah for backing their cause for the dual citizenship law to be passed. They appealed to him to lobby the Senate so that its members can concur with the House.