Letter to the Legislature: Parentage-Based Citizenship, Not Dual Citizenship

By: Arthur B. Dennis, MPA, MSW (korso2006@msn.com)

Mr. Arthur B. Dennis, former Assistant Minister of Defense for Public Affairs, The Ministry of National Defense RL

Mr. Arthur B. Dennis, former Assistant Minister of Defense for Public Affairs, The Ministry of National Defense RL

We understand members of the Legislature are soliciting inputs in order to consider a Bill for dual citizenship. If this is true, we advise that the solution to the realities at home and abroad requires parentage-based citizenship, not dual citizenship.

Realities at Home

The term “dual citizenship” refers to a person who holds two citizenships for two countries. The truth is, every Liberian at home holds no less than two citizenships, and every Liberian in the Diaspora holds two or more citizenships. Here are the realities.

According to history, the ancestors of every ethnic group at home (including Americo-Liberians) migrated from foreign countries and settled in Liberia.

Thus, if we trace the roots of our founding fathers, every Liberian holds dual citizenship: one citizenship by birth for Liberia and one citizenship by descent for his ancestors’ country of origins. That is the first reality.

In the second reality, more than 75% of Liberians at home live in the rural areas bordering Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast. These rural citizens are sons and daughters born by two-citizenship parents from both sides of the divide.

As a result, they hold two citizenships: one for Liberia and one for countries on the other side of our borders. In the third reality, under the ECOWAS Protocol, every Liberian holds citizenship for sixteen West African countries.

In the fourth reality, there are reports that during the civil war, over 3,000 children were born in Liberia by foreign peacekeepers.

Today, these children hold citizenships for Liberia and for countries of the peace keepers.

Yet, Article 28 of the constitution provides that: “Any person born by one foreign parent and one Liberian parent, he must renounce the citizenship of his foreign parent upon reaching maturity (age 18) or he is not a Liberian citizen.”

But guess what: Dr. Amos Sawyer, who was born in a two-citizenship family, holding dual citizenship as a result, chaired the Constitution Commission that crafted the language of this provision.

However, this was the exact language used in 1864 by the Liberian Supreme Court when it ruled that the local native people should renounce their primitive lifestyle and adopt the civilized ways of life or else they would not be citizens. And truly, they were not Liberian citizens until President Arthur Barclay conferred citizenship on them in 1904.
Realities Abroad

The reality in the Diaspora is quite different. During the war, thousands of Liberians, who were born in two-citizenship families at home and elsewhere, travelled to other countries and acquired additional citizenships.

Today, these individuals, who now bear three or more citizenships, hold multiple citizenship, not dual citizenship. Therefore, other countries would make mockery of our laws if we describe three or more citizenship holders as dual citizenship holders.

Parentage-based Citizenship: A Proposal for Consideration

Most worldwide immigration laws require citizenship by birth; citizenship by descent; and citizenship by naturalization.

But in 1981, the British broke ranks and introduced the law of citizenship by parentage. Under this law, any person born by one or two British parents is a British citizen.

Under the parentage-based citizenship system, the person’s place of birth does not determine his citizenship. For example, a person born anywhere in Britain is not a British citizen, unless his father or mother or both are British citizens.

But if he were born in Britain or elsewhere by one British parent, he is a British citizen. The U. S has also adopted the parentage-based citizenship law.

Under this law, any person born overseas by an American citizen and a foreign national, he is an American citizen. The law is designed to accommodate U. S. soldiers and other Americans serving overseas.

In the case of Liberia, the only condition required for citizenship is for a person to be born by one or two Liberian parents, regardless of the place of birth.

That is, if a person were born in Liberia, he is not a citizen unless one or two parents are Liberians.

On the question of multiple citizenship, the parentage-based citizenship system does not want to know how many citizenships a person holds and how he obtains them; it only wants to know whether the person’s father or mother or both are Liberians.

And citizenship should be revoked only when a person applies in writing to abandon his Liberian identity; or when he collaborates with foreign forces and takes up arms against Liberia.
Concluding Comments

Distinguished Members of the Legislature, we have seen that Liberians, who hold two or more citizenships at home, acquired them by no fault of their own.

The same is true for those in the Diaspora. Here, citizenship is not a luxury but a necessity better life.
For example, in the United States, where more than 80% of Liberians reside, Executive Order 11935, published September 2, 1976, bans the employment of non-citizens in Federal competitive jobs.

These are high-paying jobs, and the only way a non-citizen can apply is to be a U. S. citizen. In Canada, Australia, Europe, and other places where Liberians are taking refuge, citizenship is also a necessity for better life.

And every time a Liberian acquires citizenship for a country (say, Canada) and decides to live in another country (say, America), in order to access better-paying jobs, he would be compelled by necessity to obtain citizenship for that country (America).

Now, should we deny Liberian citizenship to such a person holding three or more citizenships to pursue better life in the Diaspora? Under the parentage-based citizenship, the answer is “NO.”

If his father or mother or both are Liberians, he is still a Liberian.

Therefore, the parentage-based citizenship should be considered in order to co-exist with citizenship by naturalization so that the two can be the only means by which citizenship can be acquired in Liberia.

By so doing, Liberians holding two or more citizenships would be encouraged to maintain their Liberian identity and even pass such identity to their future generations, regardless of where they live. Thank you and we wish you well in your deliberations. THE AUTHOR.

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President Johnson Sirleaf Nominates Darryl Ambrose Nmah, Others In Government

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over the weekend made several nominations in Government pending confirmation by the Liberian Senate.

Amongst those nominated in her Government include a Liberian journalist and former General Manager of Truth Radio, Mr. Darryl Ambrose Nmah as Assistant Minister for Public Affairs of the Ministry of National Defense, Hon. Conmany B. Wesseh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Representative to the United Nations; Mr. Sebastian Muah, Deputy Minister for Economic Policy, Ministry of Planning; Mr. Timothy B. Grondoe, Assistant Minister for Coast Guard Affairs, Ministry of National Defense; and Mr. Samuel Thompson, Member of the Board of Governors, Central Bank of Liberia.

Others nominated include: Counselor Eva Mae Mappy Morgan, Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Justice; Mr. Juma P. Karnley, County Attorney, Bomi County; Mr. Sol Wittness Doyen, Assistant County Attorney, Montserrado County; Ms. Serena Flomo Garlawolu, County Attorney, Bong County; Mr. J. Owen-Dweh Woart, Assistant County Attorney, Montserrado County; and Counselor Frank C.S. Oberly Jr., County Attorney, Margibi County. Other nominees include: Ms. Deddeh Jomah Wilson, Assistant County Attorney, Montserrado County; Cllr. Hector W. Quoigoah, County Attorney, Nimba County; Attorney Luther J. Sumo, County Attorney, Lofa County; Attorney Charles Gono, County Attorney, Grand Cape Mount County; Attorney John Davies, County Attorney, River Cess County and Attorney John A.A. Gabriel, County Attorney, Sinoe County.

D. Ambrose Nmah

D. Ambrose Nmah

As Corruption Swells In Gov’t, Sirleaf Bitters Appointed Officials, Performed Commissioning Ceremony Selectively

Some nominated and confirmed junior and senior officials of the Liberian Government who were served letters by the protocol section of the Executive Mansion last week to be commissioned by the Liberian leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were left in the cold following the selection of a few during the occasion.

The program which was widely publicized on local radio stations and local dailies drew the attendance of those invited to be commissioned, their wives and other relatives for the occasion.

After sitting for nearly an hour awaiting the arrival of the President in the parlous of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Now Executive Mansion), the occasion finally started with the Liberian leader appearing before platform unhappy.

The occasion which appeared similar to that of a graduation ceremony, saw the Liberian leader in a rather serious mood performing the commissioning ceremony selectively of some of the Deputies and Assistant Ministers.

As the program went on, about five of those who also invited their wives and other relatives to witness the commissioning exercise alone with their colleagues were left in the cold.

The president in her closing remarks told her cabinets of a pending reshuffle in her government. Those who were not commissioned quietly left the hall with their wives and other family members.

Observers believed that this mood by the Liberian leader to selectively leave out some Deputies and Assistant Ministers is an apparently move of media reports that bulk of her cabinet ministers were involved in massive corruption.

Liberian Leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberian Leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

“Maryland is Easy to Develop and Has Natural Riches” – Senator John A. Ballout, Jr.

Senator Ballout and President Johnson Sirleaf

Senator Ballout and President Johnson Sirleaf

The Senior Senator of one of Liberia’s oldest sub-political divisions, and also one of the nation’s heavy of its natural resources, Maryland County, situated in the southeastern part of the country says his county has a prosperous vision that its citizens can be proud of.

 

 

 

Maryland Senior Senator, John A. Ballout, Jr.

Maryland Senior Senator, John A. Ballout, Jr.

The Maryland County Senior Senator John A. ballout, Jr., speaking to the GNN this week at his Capitol Building office on Capitol Monrovia, said his vision for his beloved county is to forge ahead in the regaining of  its developmental image  which was destroyed as a result the Liberian civil war.

 

 

 

Senator Ballout and his beloved wife and children

Senator Ballout and his beloved wife and children

He described the county despite the destruction of its infrastructural as a result of the fifteen years old senseless Liberian civil war,  as a county rich of “Golden Opportunities”, and said one of his visions is to restore those lost opportunities.

 

 

 

Senator Ballout and Officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia

Senator Ballout and Officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia

Senator Ballout who is said to be admired by many of his compatriots for his farsightedness in seen his county to rapidly graduate for the state of isolation, during the interview said, his vision is to see the County of Maryland shine once more after the civil war.

 

 

 

Senator Ballout, a Civic Engineer, speaking further with the GNN, said his countless efforts to see Maryland County clutch to its pre-war image as one of the breadwinning counties of Liberia will not be deterred by people perceived to be detractors to redeem his county from the sate of isolative development.

 

“These detractors will not succeed, I will do my best to deliver those promises made to my people during the elections that the development of Maryland County will always be my utmost priority”, Senator Ballout who is also Senior Senator of his county told the GNN.

 

Due to his quest for the immediate reconstruction of his home county damaged infrastructural, the Maryland County Senator disclosed that the State of Maryland in the United States of America through his initiative has agreed to come to the aide of Maryland County in its reconstruction drive.

 

Being cognizant of the sister state relationship between the State of Maryland in the United States of America and Maryland County in Liberia, the Maryland County Senior Senator took upon himself to prevail on the Americans to come to the rescue of his county, a request accepted thus paving the way for assistance to the county.

 

Meanwhile, in our subsequent posting we hope to bring you a detailed profile of this son of the soil; a gentlemen of principle and a man who believes in helping  his people at all times. Watch out for this profile.

Taylor Resists Measure To Chain Him

"Carton" of former detained Liberian leader, Charles G. TaylorDetained former President Charles Taylor has resisted a new security measure for him to be chained while coming to court.

’s lead lawyer, Courtney Griffiths said his client objected to the measure because it is degrading and is like treating him as an animal.

 

 

Mr. Griffiths also said the prison authorities announced another security measure considered sensory deprivation.

 

The defense lawyer however, did not elaborate because according to him, the prison authorities asked him not to give details.

 

He requested the court to launch an investigation into the new security measures but the prosecution argued they have no impact on Mr. Taylor.

 

Prosecution lawyer, Brenda Hollist said it was Mr. Taylor’s choice not to come to court and the security measures did not undermine his rights to a fair trial.

 

The Presiding Judge, Teresa Doherty ruled that the security issue did have some bearing on Mr. Taylor’s fair trial rights.

 

Madam Doherty ordered the Registrar of the court to investigate and report on Tuesday morning.

 

JFK Hospital Receives US$30,000 Worth of Medical Supplies

Liberia’s Foreign Minster, Mrs. Olubanke King Akerele, on behalf of the International Colloquium on Friday, August 15, 2008 presented medical and dental supplies to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia.

 

Minister Akerele is the Co-chair of the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security. The supplies, valued about US$30,000.00 were donated by Unity Healthcare Incorporated of Washington, D.C. as a partner to the Colloquium.

 

Speaking at the presentation ceremony held at the Dental Unit of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Minister Akerele said by the donation, the Unity Healthcare Incorporated has concretely assisted the Colloquium to initialize and capacitate the John F. Kennedy Medical Center as well as help the country to recover from conflict as stated in UNCR B25.

 

According to Minister Akerele, the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D. C. has provided fifty percent of the shipping cost with the amount of US$1,637.00 for the supplies to reach Liberia. Minister Akerele used the occasion to acknowledge the effort of Ambassador Charles Minor under whose leadership the embassy was able to provide fifty percent of the shipping cost to Liberia.

 

She applauded Unity Healthcare for joining with the International Colloquium in the initiative that will make a difference, and look forward to partnering with Unity Healthcare Incorporated in future endeavours to bring positive changes in the lives of Liberians. She also recognized the effort of Dr. Ayele Ajavon-Cox, head of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center Dental Unit, who acted as a bridge between the International Colloquium and Unity Healthcare Incorporated for the successful implementation of the project.

 

In a brief remark, Dr. Ajavon-Cox lauded the International Colloquium and Unity Healthcare for the donation which she said came at the time the Hospital was in dire need of supplies. 

 

Liberia's Foreign Minister, Madam Olubanke King Akerele

Liberia

In Southeastern Liberia: Bad Roads Condition Hampers Free Movements, Goods, Services, Citizens Bitters Government

By: J. Cholo Brooks in Southeastern Liberia

Scene from Maryland/River Gee Highway

Scene from Maryland/River Gee Highway

Liberians in the southeastern part of the Country, specifically in Maryland and Grand Kru Counties have been entrapped; denying them of free movement and the selling of their goods and services in order to equitably sustain themselves.

A visit by the GNN in that part of the country this week saw hundreds of people with dozens of vehicles trapped in a very deep mud as a result of the deplorable conditions of major roads in the southeastern part of Liberia.

Another Scene Bad Road Condition in Southeastern Liberia

Another Scene Bad Road Condition in Southeastern Liberia

Traders and ordinary travelers, even including NGOs employees spent weeks on the road to reach to their destinations, a situation which sometimes leads them to accrued hundreds of dollars loses before reaching to their locations.

Another Scene of bad road condition

Another Scene of bad road condition

Some of the stranded travelers who spoke to the GNN on the Maryland/River Gee Highway expressed frustration over such situation, like this lady, “It seems to be the Government of President Ellen Johnson Srleaf has forgotten about us in this part of the Country. You want to tell me our Central Government has refused to listen to our plight?” Mary Wah, a businesswoman with tears soaked in her eyes told the GNN.

Most travelers in this part of the country solely depends on motorbikes to take them to their various locations, sometimes these motorbikes riders in their efforts to equally make money like these commercial vehicles, also encountered difficulties passing through, as a result of the deepness of the road.

Even Riders also had their own of frustration from bad road condition

Even Riders also had their own of frustration from bad road condition

Being frustrated of the condition of the road drivers and even the occupants refused to be photographed by our team of journalists, at point one of the motorbike riders threatened to waist mud on our photographer if he snap him while fighting to get his motorbike out of the mud.

However, many of the bad road victims who spoke to the GNN called on the Liberian Government to quickly come to their aide in the reconditioning of most highways in the country.

They said if the central government wants its citizens to live peacefully and healthy those things that are needed, like farm to market roads, improved health facilities (Clinics/Hospitals) and other social services must be provided equally.