EFLA 2019 STATEMENT ON DUAL CITIZENSHIP

EUROPEAN FEDERATION OF LIBERIAN ASSOCIATIONS

AUGUST 29th, 2019

POSITION STATEMENT

 ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

  

Topic:

Dual Citizenship for Liberians: The Beginning, the Challenges, Advantages and Way Forward to the Future

Update by: Michael Geegbae Mueller, Member of the Board of EFLA, Co- Chairman, The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship

 My fellow Compatriots

I am presenting to you the topic “Dual Citizenship for Liberians Living Abroad: The Beginning, the Challenges, Advantages and Way Forward to the Future”.  

Liberia at 172 is a founding member of the United Nations, African Union, The Economic Community of West African States and signatory to many human rights organizations.  Ambassador Angie Elizabeth Brooks-Randolph, a Liberian diplomat was the first African woman to be President of the United Nations General Assembly in the 1960s.  In 1960, Liberia filed legal proceedings against South Africa at the International Court of Justice. In recent history, Liberia elected the first female President of Africa. Despite all these diplomatic achievements, the government of Liberia has from 1847 to now discriminate against its own female citizens.

According to Liberia’s 1974 Aliens and Nationality Laws at the time of birth, the rights to citizenship only descend to a child by way of their father and not their mother.

A natural born Liberian who migrated to another country and naturalized is no longer considered a Liberian and the same applies to their children.  The 1974 Aliens and Nationality Laws do not support dual citizenship by allowing you to keep your Liberian citizenship and your naturalized citizenship.

 And since the constitution of Liberia states that only a Liberian can own land, any land owned by a Liberian before naturalization is no longer for them after nationalization. Also, their children born outside of Liberia who are citizens of another country can’t take ownership of the land.

One of our challenges is the unwillingness of our political leaders and lawmakers who support Dual Citizenship to transfer their oral support by using their vast political influence and financial means to advocate for dual citizenship. For ten years, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf verbally advocated for dual citizenship but failed to use her political will and enormous power and influence to impact any change in the law until she left her Presidency. President George Weah, like President Sirleaf has verbally advocated for Dual Citizenship and unlike President Sirleaf, he has gone a step further and made dual citizenship one of his legislative items. However, he has taken no action thus far. 

Also, those with the means are purchasing land using Trust Funds to protect the future of their children who have different nationalities and not helping to change the law.   

Looking at Countries like Ghana and Nigeria, dual citizenship will provide the legal safety net for Liberians in the diaspora with the needed skills to return home and help in the planning, development and support of building medical facilities, road networks, and universities across the country, and providing job opportunities for the people. Liberians abroad with the means can also help build and revitalize our tourism industry so Liberians can take vacations in various parts of the country to help support local businesses. Dual Citizenship will replace brain drain with brain gain. Dual Citizenship will help develop the middle class in Liberia. Dual Citizenship will enable diaspora Liberians to return home and provide identical or similar services that some Liberians seek outside of Liberia.

Before I articulate the way forward, let me provide you an update on the effort or status of our quest for dual citizenship in Liberia under the sponsorship of The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, which was established in December 2007, that is representing over 500,000 Liberians in the Diaspora and comprising of The European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA),  the Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), Inc., Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS), United Liberian Association in Ghana (ULAG), and Coalition of Concerned Liberians (CCL)).

·       The Supreme Court of Liberia will one day in the future make a decision on a case heard on March 2017 challenging the constitutionality of the 1974 Alien and Nationality Law. Cllr. Seward Cooper represented plaintiff Teage Jalloh.

·       April 2018, Senator H. Varney G. Sherman, GRAND CAPE MOUNT COUNTY introduced a Dual Citizenship bill in the Liberian Senate.

·       January 2019 President George Weah listed Dual Citizenship as a legislative item. 

·       August 2019, Senator Darius Dillon, MONTSERRADO COUNTY reintroduced the debate on Dual

Citizenship bill in the Liberian Senate for Liberians living abroad going clearly against Government recommendation for Constitutional amendment which will allow everyone becoming citizen.

•    Our advocacy is for natural born Liberians and those born of Liberian parentage.

·       Above all else, the topic of Dual Citizenship for Liberia is now a national agenda item. Therefore, one day in the future it will become a law.

The All Liberian Conference on Dual-Citizenship is planning the next conference on the 7th of December 2019 taking place in Maryland, USA where you all are invited to attend with the EFLA delegation. We all are call upon to network with our family, friends and lawmakers in Liberia in the advocacy for Dual Citizenship.  Our political leaders need to be putting on record to use their political capital to make dual citizenship accepted in Liberia through law. And it needs to happen NOW!

ONCE A LIBERIAN, ALWAYS A LIBERIAN – MAY GOD BLESS MAMA LIBERIA AND ALL LIBERIANS. OUR BETTER DAYS ARE AHEAD

President G.M. WEAH declares tuition-free for all undergraduate students at the University of Liberia as well as all other public universities in Liberia.

REMARKS

BY

H.E. DR. GEORGE MANNEH WEAH PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AND VISITOR TO THE UNIVERSITY OF LIBERIA MAIN CAMPUS CAPITOL HILL MONROVIA, LIBERIA

24 OCTOBER 2018

Dr. William E. Allen, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of Liberia
and Head of the Management Team;
Members of the Faculty Senate;
Members of the UL Administration;
Professors and Instructors of the University of Liberia;
Officials of Government here present;
The Leadership of the University of Liberia Students Union;
The General Student Body;
Special Invitees;
Ladies and Gentlemen:

One of my duties as President of the Republic of Liberia, by law, is to serve as Visitor to the University of Liberia. This is an honor that I accept with deep humility. But it is also a responsibility that I take very seriously. As Visitor, it is incumbent upon me to use my good offices as President to ensure that the Nation’s highest institution of learning is well established, adequately funded through budgetary support from the Government, and properly managed by competent administrators. It is given to me as my Presidential duty, to appoint the President and members of the Board of Trustees of the University, who, in turn, are mandated to engage professors and other members of the teaching staff who have earned high standards of academic qualifications, so that students enrolled at this University will receive quality education that will enable them to become productive in their chosen fields upon graduation. Besides these official functions, I am personally concerned that the University should be run smoothly and efficiently, so that it is enabled to concentrate on its growth and development plans, and fulfill its ambition to become one of the best universities in Africa.

One such example of this concern is that, over the years, we have observed that students of the University of Liberia have suffered from standing in long queues, delays in the registration processes, lack of systems to effectively and efficiently manage students` records, and to adequately manage the University’s Administration and its system in general. With a student body of close to 40,000 students, it has been extremely difficult to efficiently manage the registration and administrative processes of the University on a manual basis. As we are all aware, there have been many instances when the registration processes have ended in riots, conflicts and demonstrations on the campuses of the University.

In 2017, the UL Administration made a decision to digitize the University of Liberia. But up to the time I took Office in January of this year, the project had not yet been started. Realizing the critical importance of digitization to the smooth and efficient running of the University, I gave the project maximum priority and budgetary support at the very beginning of my Administration.

It was my pleasure to visit your Fendall Campus on the 4th of this month, to dedicate the new digital system. It is now installed, and in use, providing not only ease of registration, but also vital internet access so critical for research and study. Ladies and Gentlemen: Last Monday, October 22, was the official commencement of classes for this new semester. As your Visitor, I would like to take this occasion to welcome the Administration, faculty and staff, and especially the students, back to school. However, in my continuous dialogues and conversations with administrators as well as students, I have been made acutely aware of another major problem facing the student body. Let me tell you a story: Last Friday, I heard that students were chanting again in front of my Office. I asked, “What is happening?” I was told that it was the UL students, again. So, I sent for them.

The students told me that the Administration had increased the tuition per credit hour. I was not happy about that, so, I sent to the University to speak with someone. Mr. Norris Tweah, Vice President for University Relations came and we spoke. Mr. Tweah communicated to me that the fees were not increased as mentioned by the students. According to him, the credit per hour is still the same US4.00 but due to the fluctuation of the LD to the USD, a fixed rate of LD150 to USD1.00 was established to avoid confusion. During Mr. Norris’ explanation about the students’ condition, I was shocked when I was told that every semester about 20,000 students go through the billing process, yet only about 12,000 students attend and pay. Furthermore, about 5,000 of the 12,000 students who are in attendance are dependent on some form of financial aid or scholarship. The rest of the students do not attend due to the lack of financial means. Based upon our discussion, I called in the Finance Minister to find a solution to the problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The inability of our young people to continue their education is very sad and troubling and has a direct impact on them, and their ability to make a positive contribution to the nation’s growth and development. By this time, it should be clear to all, that we will never be successful in achieving the goals of our Pro-Poor Agenda if we do not place more emphasis on the development of our human capital. And in so doing, we have to invest in quality education. I believe in education. As the late Kofi Annan once said, and I quote: “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, and in every family.” The increasing cost of education in Liberia, leading to non-enrollment, non-attendance, and frequent drop-outs, is becoming counter-productive to our development goals. I believe, therefore, that the time has come to take bold initiatives and make direct social interventions to address this problem.

There is a definite link between a well-educated citizenry and economic growth, and in recognition of that, my Government has decided to invest in our human capital in order to achieve sustained economic growth. Having a good education is important to one’s success in life. Education is the key to success because it enables a person to think logically and communicate effectively. I therefore wish to declare tuition-free for all undergraduate students at the University of Liberia as well as all other public universities in Liberia. Now, make use of the opportunity given today to reach your full potential in your educational sojourn. The details and modalities will be arranged and finalized between the Administration of the University and the relevant sectoral Ministries of Government. But, to the students: Let me inform you that this will be a win-win partnership between you and Government, as you will still be expected to pay all other fees charged by the University.

Ladies and Gentlemen: By this intervention, my Government shows its commitment not only to invest in physical capital, such as roads, but in human capital, for the over-all growth of our citizens and our economy. We believe that no country can develop without investing in the education of its people. This policy will continue to form an integral part of our Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity. Now there is no need for you not to enroll in school, and for you not to attend your classes. There is also no reason now for you to drop out of school because of financial constraints. According to Nelson Mandela, my hero, and I quote: “Education is the greatest weapon that you can use to change the world.” I am now giving you that weapon. Go forth, and change Liberia!!! May God bless the works of my Hands, and safe the State. I thank you.

Source: Emansion

https://emansion.gov.lr/doc/Speech%20by%20President%20George%20Weah%20at%20the%20UL.pdf

 

 

PETITION TO REPEAL TITLE 4, CHAPTER 22 OF THE 1973 ALIEN AND NATIONALITY LAW OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA, AS AMENDED IN 1974

PETITION TO REPEAL TITLE 4, CHAPTER 22 OF THE 1973

ALIEN AND NATIONALITY LAW OF THE REPUBLIC OF

LIBERIA, AS AMENDED IN 1974

 

WE, the citizens of the Republic of Liberia, residing within the territorial confines of the Republic of Liberia and in the Diaspora organized under the banner of “The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship” realizing that Liberia has experienced social and political upheavals from the 1980 military intervention to 14 years of civil war which forced hundreds of thousands of Liberians to flee their country and become refugees, citizens or immigrants in foreign lands in Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia; and

WHEREAS, there are approximately more than 500,000 Liberians residing outside the Republic of Liberia in foreign lands; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of Liberians who re-settled abroad as a result of intractable conflicts both the 1980 military and 14 years of civil war in the Republic of Liberia creating new family by birth, changed their citizenship or nationality as per Chapter IV Article 28 of the constitution but have also expressed their commitment to maintaining their Liberian citizenship; and

WHEREAS, Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law of the Republic of Liberia, as amended in 1974 , does not allow for Liberians to retain their citizenship upon becoming citizens by birth, naturalization or other means of foreign lands; and

WHERREAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, due to the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law, 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; and

WHEREAS, 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 is contrary to the due process, and is inconsistent with the 1986 National Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien 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”; and

WHEREAS, 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;

WHEREAS, Section 20.1(b) of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law unconstitutionally discriminates against Liberian mothers in that it does not recognize children born outside Liberia to Liberian mothers as Liberian citizens but recognizes children born outside Liberia to Liberian fathers as Liberian citizens; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHEREASAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHERREAS allowing such Liberians to retain their Liberian citizenship will maximize opportunities for Liberians living outside Liberia to obtain the necessary resources (education, knowledge, skills and wealth) to help develop a working middle class for Liberia that can serve as an engine for the reconstruction of the motherland;

NOW THEREFORE, we hereby call on the Liberian National Legislature to repeal the 1973 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.

WE FURTHER CALL on the National Legislature to repeal without Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law regarding loss of citizenship for Liberians. 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;

A PROPOSED ACT TO REPEAL TITLE 4, CHAPTER 22 OF THE 1973 ALIEN AND NATIONALITY LAW AS AMENDED IN 1974;

An Act to Repeal Title 4, Chapter 22, of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law of The Republic of Liberia as amended in 1974 and to Restore Liberian Citizenship

It is enacted by the Senate and House of Representative of the Republic of Liberia in Legislature Assembled:

Chapter 1: Repeal of Chapter 22 of the Alien and Nationality Law of 1973 (with amendments approved 1974)

Section 1.1 Chapter 22, of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law, of the Liberian Code of Laws Revised, is hereby repealed.

Chapter 2: Restoration of Citizenship

Section 2.1 From and after the effective date of this Act, a person who was a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization, who lost his or her Liberian citizenship under Chapter 22, of the 1973 Alien and nationality Law, of the Liberian Code of Laws Revised is hereby restored to Liberian citizenship with all the rights, immunities, duties and obligations of Liberian citizenship unless otherwise limited or prohibited under this Act.

Section 2.2 A person whose citizenship is restored under this Act, who elects to retain the Citizenship or nationality of another country shall not hold certain public offices of the Republic of Liberia.

Section 2.3 No rights, immunities, duties and obligations of Liberian citizenships restored under this Act shall be limited or prohibited unless specifically limited or prohibited under this Act.

Chapter 3: Prohibition to hold Certain Public Offices of the Republic of Liberia

Section 3.1 A person who holds citizenship or nationality of another country in addition to his/her citizenship of Liberia shall not be eligible to: (a) hold the office of President or Vice President; (b) be a member of the Senate or House of Representatives.

Section 3.2 A person who is prohibited from holding office(s) under Section 3.1 of this Act shall automatically have his/her rights restored to hold said offices immediately upon renunciation of other citizenship(s) or nationalities.

Chapter 4: Subjection to the Laws of the Republic

Section 4.1: A person whose citizenship is restored under this Act is subject to all laws, including criminal laws of the Republic of Liberia, and to all treaties of extradition or repatriation to which the Republic of Liberia is a signatory and to all such other international laws and international conventions to which the Republic of Liberia is an adherent party.

Section 4.2 A person who holds citizenship or nationality of another country in addition to his/her citizenship of Liberia must use a Liberian passport to enter or leave Liberia.

Section 5: Effective Date of Repeal and Restoration of Citizenship

Section 5:1 This act shall take effect immediately upon publication in handbills Sincerely yours,

Signed: ULAA Eminent Emmanuel S. Wettee Chairman, The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship

 

Dual Citizenship as a Major Component of Liberia’s Poverty Reduction, Reconciliation, and Development Agenda

European Federation of Liberian Associations 

July 28th 2018

Almere, The Netherlands 

By : Emily Ekua Erskine, EFLA Keynote Guest & Speaker

Excellencies, Isaac Nyenabo, Ambassador of Liberia to the Benelux, Paul Tate, Chargé of the Permanent Mission of Liberia to Switzerland and the United Nations, Mr. Nicholas Doe, President of the Liberian Association of Holland, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Leadership of the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), I am delighted to speak on the occasion marking the 171st Independence day celebration of the Republic of Liberia.

My special thanks go to Excellency Paul Tate for his relentless support to Liberians and for serving as an example of humanity and humility, to Mr. Mike Müeller, Vice-President of Dual Citizenship in the diaspora, for his unwavering support and advice since EFLA’s formation, and to our sister Dr. Liane Ursa, for her steadfastness, determination and very positive energy in helping the Liberian cause.

This evening, to mark our independence, we would like to focus our attention on challenges Liberians in both homeland Liberia and in the diaspora are facing, Liberian diaspora’s contributions to ease those challenges and how to cement our efforts and see Liberia lifted up once again.

Over the past decades, our people have been experiencing food insecurity, scarce or hardly direct access to water and electricity, collapsed health and education systems, unemployment, disillusion, urban demographic explosion (Monrovia), marginalization and  lack of skills, only to name some.

This general climate of insecurity at different levels of our society cannot be adequately addressed if all Liberians, especially diaspora Liberians who have been involved in Liberia’s development agenda from time immemorial, are not recognized as being a part of this one big puzzle which is our country Liberia.

Diaspora Associations and Federations like EFLA were founded on the sentiment of “Love for Liberia” at a time when war was waging in Liberia.  Liberians in the diaspora wanted to see Liberia lifted up, they have always strived to share responsibility in the poverty-reduction and reconciliation process.

Diaspora Liberians’ contribution is directly linked to poverty-reduction and national development. Diaspora Liberians engagement covers mainly:

  • Private or personal remittances to family and friends through financial contributions and donations of different nature;
  • Securing social and economic well-being of family and friends.

These remittances are estimated at USD 350 million annually, whereas our annual national budget is USD 550 million.

Homeland Liberians value the contribution of diaspora Liberians in the poverty-reduction and reconstruction process, nevertheless, in order for the impact of diaspora contribution to be greater, a major component of that one big puzzle should be recognized as such.

Liberians in the diaspora have been promoting dual citizenship as a clear guarantee of national interest and consciousness for Liberia. The request for dual citizenship is over 12 years old.  That major component of that one big puzzle can only be recognized where there is unity and love. Living in the diaspora does not mean that homeland Liberians love Liberia more than diaspora Liberians.

All Liberians as well as homeland Liberians love Liberia.

Liberians in the diaspora and homeland Liberians were all born into the same family and have the same parents, ancestors/forefathers, history, names, culture, grew up in the same communities! This is an established fact and remains unquestionable and irreversible!  Liberians in the diaspora’s brothers and sisters in homeland Liberia cannot deny that they do not have the same parents, ancestors, did not grow up in the same homes, do not have the same friends and relatives, do not speak the same languages, do not have the same family names, etc.  Their names have not changed, their parents have not changed, their ancestors have not changed, their history has not changed, their country cannot also change.

From Liberia’s recent history, all Liberians (Liberians in the diaspora and homeland Liberians) bear indelible wounds from the 15-year old war, be they physical, psychological, emotional, which only wisdom, love and unity can mend. Recognizing dual nationality is a part of the healing process and will allow all Liberians to reunite and be considered as one big family.  It is only if Liberians are united that they can make a greater difference.

Today, Liberia is celebrating 171 years of independence, and is known as Africa’s oldest Republic.  Liberians are proud of belong to the oldest Republic on the continent. Dual citizenship is not only a trend in today’s Africa, but is becoming the norm. Sadly, Africa’s oldest Republic has denied herself her role as the leader of this noble cause and is still not acknowledging her importance in assuming this role.

The Liberian diaspora has made several attempts in various forms to appeal for dual citizenship and hope to see Liberia continue to lead noble causes such as dual citizenship, to reunite homeland and diaspora Liberians, to recognize the strength and power of diaspora Liberians who have been fully contributing to the development of Liberia as citizens, to see specific strategies and plans put in place in homeland Liberia. The Liberian diaspora is willing to collaborate in the establishment of operation centers abroad to facilitate the implementation of these strategic plans.

Dual nationality will support national reunification, reconciliation and national development.

Liberians in the diaspora would like to see one Liberia, void of division, representing peace, love and unity.

In union strong success is sure!