EUROPEAN FEDERATION OF LIBERIAN ASSOCIATIONS
AUGUST 29th, 2019
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!