LIBERIANS WILL ALWAYS BE LIBERIANS
If anyone was born on Liberian soil and took up citizenship in another nation to survive, they must not be denied the right to return home and reclaim their citizenship. Common sense demands it and the rights enshrined in the constitution demands that Liberians will always be Liberians, no matter how long they have been away from home.
AT THE HEIGHT of the Liberian civil war and even before the first bullets were fired, scores of Liberians fled into exile.
SOME WERE fortunate to make to neighboring Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and other African nations while others made their way across the Atlantic to America, Asia and as far as Latin America.
EXILE BECAME home away from home for many who abandoned their homes, families, friends and loved ones in hopes of securing a safe haven and a better life for themselves and their families.
TODAY, thousands of Liberians in foreign nations have become the driving force of the local economy, sending millions of dollars annually back home to those unable to fend for themselves or find jobs to make life better.
YEARS LATER, flight into exile appears to have become a crime for those on the outside looking to return home and help rebuild their homeland.
OVER THE PAST FEW months, a bill has been dangling in the corridors of the national legislature eyeing dual citizenship for many Liberian who have become citizens in other nations but are contemplating a return home.
THIS WEEK, the matter has reached the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of Liberia which on Tuesday set the pace to hear Oral argument in legal challenge to the automatic loss of citizenship law in a case likely to impact scores of Liberians who fled due to the civil war. More importantly, the case could alter the fate of many others who returned from exile and are currently serving in government positions while holding passports of a foreign nation.
A.T. JALLOH, Attorney-in-Fact, based in the United States who is the brainchild of the effort says it is ironic that Liberia embodies a notion which ignores that a person from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and other countries that recognize dual citizenship, can become a naturalized citizen of Liberia and simultaneously retain his or her birth citizenship regardless of what Liberia's oath-of-allegiance says, be elected to the national legislature, serve as a justice on the supreme court of Liberia, and occupy other positions within the Liberian government.
FOR JALLOH, the challenged provisions of Sections 22.1 and 22.2, which purport to automatically deprive a Liberian of his or her Liberian citizenship without a prior hearing judgment consistent with due process, are in direct conflict with Article 20(a) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, which requires a law to hear before it may deprive: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in accordance with due process of law."
WHILE WE HAVE no intentions of preempting the decision of the high court, we pray that all three branches of government would see the need to bring this controversy to an end.
LIBERIANS RESIDING in other parts of the world are there because they had no choice but to be there. Some had to flee the fighting, others gave birth children in other parts of the world as their own nation was on fire.
AS THE HIGH court deliberates, we encourage those in government, many of whom are holders of foreign passports to see the need to find reasoning in pressing for Mr. Jalloh’s efforts and press for some compromise on a matter that affects us all.
LIBERIA AND LIBERIANS are tired of chaos and confusion. There is no need for Liberians to fight each other over issues of natural birth. If anyone was born on Liberian soil and took up citizenship in another nation to survive, they must not be denied the right to return home and reclaim their citizenship. Common sense demands it and the rights enshrined in the constitution demands that Liberians will always be Liberians, no matter how long they have been away from home.