Liberia: Dual Citizenship Still Remains Unresolved As Senate Plans to Amend 1973 Alien and Nationality Law, Subject Article 28 of Constitution to Referendum

MONROVIA – The Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert T. Chie (CDC, Grand Kru County), says the Supreme Court’s December 2019 Opinion forbidding the automatic forfeiture of Liberian citizenship does not in other words permit dual citizenship.

According to Senator Chie, the permanent way to lay the issue of dual citizenship to rest is through a National Referendum to amend Article 28 of the Constitution. 

Article 28 states: “Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the Person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.”

“Unfortunately, this provision did not pass in the December 2020 Referendum. This provision of the Constitution is regarded as prohibition against dual citizenship. Therefore, the issue of dual citizenship is Liberia is yet to be resolved as far as we concerned,” Senator Chie said.

He referenced the misconception drawn from the Ministry of Justice’s letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urging due notice in the implementation of the Revised Regulations to govern the Administration and Issuance of Liberian Passports.

In that communication, the Ministry of Justice referenced the Opinion of the Supreme Court of Liberia sitting in its October 2019 Term, against the automatic forfeiture of one’s Liberian citizenship without Due Process (in the case: Alvin Teage Jalloh Petitioner vs Olubanke King Akerele et al).

Jalloh had argued that Section 22.2 of the Alien and Nationality Law which were enacted before the adoption of the 1986 Constitution, purports to automatically deprive Liberian citizens of their citizenship rights they do certain things such as vote in the elections of a foreign country or join the military of another country.

It took the Supreme Court almost nine years to make a determination Jalloh’s case. In the landmark ruling, the Supreme Court opined that Section 22.2 of the Alien and Nationality Law is in direct conflict with the requirement of Articles 20(a) of the Constitution which states, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgement consistent with due process of law…”

The Supreme Court’s Opinion, according to the Senate Pro-Tempore, does not interpret as giving greenlight to dual citizenship, rather the granting of due process before depriving a natural-born Liberian citizen his/citizenship.

Senator Chie stated, “For the records, let me state that a majority of Senators, including myself, support the concept of: “once a Liberian, you will always be a Liberian”, in support of Article 27 (a) of the 1986 Constitution.”

According to him, the Senate has, therefore, will propose amendments to the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law, especially to clarify the procedures for the loss of citizenship in line with the due process principle.

“Whatever amendments to the above law that may be proposed, it is clear that a National Referendum to amend Article 28 of the Constitution  is the answer to the dual citizenship issue.

“There is therefore a need to subject the Amendment of Article 28 of the Constitution to another round of national referendum.”

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