Members of the Senate, which is the Upper House of Liberia’s Bicameral Legislature, on May 20, 2023, overwhelmingly voted for the passage of the much-heralded and publicized Dual Citizenship Bill.
The Bill seeks to Amend Part 3, Chapter 20, Sections 20.1, 20.31, 30.51 and 20.52 and Chapter 22, Sections 20.2, 20.3 and 20.4 of the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia to provide for dual citizenship.
Recommendation for the passage of the bill was made to the Plenary of the Senate, which is the highest decisions-making body, by the Senate’s Judicial Committee, headed by Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman, Senator of Grand Cape Mount County.
The passage of the bill by members of the Senate is in concurrence with the Lower House of the National Legislature which members previously passed it and subsequently forwarded it to the Upper House.
As part of its recommendation, the Senate Judicial Committee told the Senate Plenary that there are immense economic benefits which are associated with dual citizenship including providing opportunity for Liberians abroad who have taken up other nationalities to return home with their much-needed resources, skills, among others, as the country strives for socio-economic development and progress.
In other words, the passage of the bill will now allow Liberians in the Diasporas who have taken up other nationalities due to multiple circumstances and constraints, and as a result of Liberia’s brutal and ‘back-to-back’ civil war that began in December 1989 and ended in August 2003 to contribute more effectively in the reconstruction of the Liberian nation for its progressive forward movement.
The amended law made it abundantly clear that a Liberian with two Liberian parents will not lose his/her citizenship for being a citizen of another country and that if it is observed that dual citizens are abusing or misusing the citizenship, laws could be enacted to punish those who are abusing or misusing same.
For us, at THE INDEPENDENT, we are glad and sincerely enthused by the overwhelming passage of the dual citizenship bill and hope that hundreds of thousands of Liberians, if not millions, who were forced out of the country as a result of the Liberian armed conflict that spanned over a decade and subsequently compelled by extreme circumstances to take up citizenships of other civilized and, /or sophisticated countries worldwide for sanctuary, jobs, education, among others will view the passage of the dual citizenship bill as a golden opportunity to contribute more to Liberia’s growth and development.
Frankly, our support for dual citizenship is also predicated upon the fact that it gives opportunities for dual citizens to enjoy certain benefits and privileges ranging from the ability to live and work freely in two countries, own property in both, and travel between the countries with relative ease.
Dual citizens also enjoy access to two social services systems, vote in either country, and may be able to run for office in either country if the law of a particular country requires it.
Moreover, we strongly believe that diversity in this 21st Century and today’s competitive world creates opportunity as being a part of two distinct cultures gives one a unique experience that employers and others crave and offers an opportunity to learn a new language or approach life in a different way.
But, inasmuch as we, at THE INDEPENDENT, support the passage of the dual citizenship bill, we are well aware that dual citizenship is not faultless or impeccable.
We say this simply because dual citizenship entails, among others, series of drawbacks or disadvantages that we, as a Nation, need to be mindful of, and for which proactive, legal and prudent mechanisms need to be put into place.
For instance, dual citizenship creates multiple tax obligations, key security issues, threatens political identity of a country, and requires specific passport obligations, among others.
However, it is our candid view that the PROs of dual citizenship, in the case of Liberia, far outweigh the CONs, for which we wholeheartedly embrace its passage by the National Legislature.