Senate Screens Proposed Amendment To Alien, Nationality Law

Senator Albert Chie, Senate Pro-Temporal

(LINA) – The Liberian Senate on Thursday began deliberation on the proposed amendments to certain portions of Liberia’s Alien and Nationality Law, with the required adjustments as presented to the body offering remedies to addressing perceived hindrances being protested by some Liberians over the years.

The proposed Act titled: “An Act Amendatory of Certain Provision of Part III, Chapter 20, 21, and 22 of the Alien and Nationality Law,” seeks to make such provisions of the code compliant with the Constitution and to restore citizenship to Liberians who have lost their citizenship pursuant to the stated provisions.

Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, who submitted the proposed amendments in his submission of the code, entreated members of the Senate to evaluate the Act with utmost caution asserting that it provides concrete remedies to allaying simmering discontents regarding Liberia’s  citizenship.

The proposed amendments as presented by Senator Sherman speaks to how a person can acquire “citizenship of Liberia at birth, of child born of Liberia parents outside of Liberia, of person who marries a Liberian citizen and of child born outside Liberia of alien parents, among others.

It also seeks to address bottlenecks surrounding the revocation of citizenship of father or mothers who acquire Liberian citizenship on his/hers direct offspring as well as provisions regarding acts causing loss of citizenship solely from performance of certain act.

Key in the Act as presented by Senator Sherman, who leads the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Claims, Petitions and Human Rights, is the provision contained in Chapter Nine of the Code, that speaks of the reservation of the rights of a Liberian citizen to acquire the citizenship of another country without affecting his/her Liberian citizenship.

Sherman argues that pursuant to the modern trend of nationality laws of most countries, in order to promote social harmony, unity and reconciliation of the Liberian people and to spur economic growth, the right is or should be  reserved to a Liberian citizen to acquire the citizenship of another country without affecting his/her Liberian citizenship.

“Liberian citizenship for a natural born Liberian should be inalienable as is the right to life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness, which latter inalienable rights are guaranteed to the Constitution,” Sherman stated.

He believes that the right to citizenship for most Liberians is even more sacred and more important than the right to own property and as such denying a natural born Liberian of citizenship is tantamount to depriving him/her the right to own real property in Liberia as provided by the Constitution.

The law, as it is, stultifies investment and development, Sherman noted, adding that “it alienates one group of Liberians from those who assume the citizenship of other countries and militates against our country’s cherished dream of unity and reconciliation.”

The Liberian Senate will, meanwhile, continue its debate on the proposed Act as several Senators are expected to render opinions on the matter.

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