President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been named the ‘Diaspora Person of the Year 2015’ by the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship for her concern and meaningful support for Dual Citizenship for those born as Liberians and of Liberian parentage.
“Our decision to select President Sirleaf as the Diaspora Person of the Year 2015 was based on the President’s stable leadership in the fight against Ebola which demonstrated her love for the people of Liberia and her visible leadership in our quest for Dual Citizenship,” a dispatch from the United States said Monday.
It quoted Emmanuel S. Wettee, Chairman of the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, as saying that President Sirleaf’s vision to involve all Liberians in the development of the country has led to her commitment to Dual Citizenship for those born as Liberians and of Liberian parentage.
The dispatch said each year President Sirleaf has highlighted the issue during her annual message and continued to make statements in support of dual citizenship.
“Her statements have enumerated the benefits our country will get from removing legal bottlenecks to Liberians who have acquired additional citizenships abroad so that they can fully participate in the economic, social and infrastructural development of our country,” the dispatch noted.
Liberian laws provide that only Liberian citizens can own real property in Liberia and the current 1973 Alien and Nationality Law as amended in 1974 through the Fourth Regular Session of the Forty-Fifth Legislature strips natural born Liberians of their citizenship for assuming additional citizenship.
The dispatch notes that this imposes legal restrictions on many Liberians by birth, who fled abroad due to war and conflict, from investing in the country as they cannot own or inherit real property in Liberia.
It also stifles the participation of Diaspora Liberians in the reconstruction and economic recovery of the land of their nativity.
“For the past 10 years or more we have continued to take numerous steps to remove this legal impediment so that Diaspora Liberians can actively invest in the country and participate in the economic recovery. These include several meetings with you during which we have continued to crave your indulgence to help repeal the Alien and Nationality Law.
“We have sent delegations to Liberia, written letters and held meetings with the leadership and individual members of the National Legislature. We have submitted proposals and actively lobbied to repeal the Alien and Nationality Law. We were deeply involved in the national consultation to amend the National Constitution, and were represented at this year's National Constitution Review Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County,” the dispatch said.
The Diaspora Liberians regretted that despite these efforts, the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law amended in 1974 through the Fourth Regular Session of the Forty-Fifth Legislature still remains in place, notwithstanding its unconstitutionality.