Diaspora Liberian Group Pushes for “Amendment” to Alien and Nationality Law

From left to right: River Gee County Senator Jonathan Sogbie, Rev. Marcus Y. Sherman, Secretary-General, Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Ghana, Mr. Kingstone Wleh, Co-Chairman, All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship ALCOD and Senate Pro-Temp Albert Chea

Monrovia – Liberians living in the diaspora under the banner, All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD), have again commenced pushing their cause for dual citizenship for natural born Liberians, who are also citizens of other countries.

This time around, their new strategy is to meet with individual lawmaker and hand deliver copies of their amended law so that they (lawmakers) can familiarize themselves with what their compatriots in the United States and other parts of the world are asking for.

ALCOD, which includes the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), Liberian Advocacy for Change (LAC), Federation of Liberia Communities in Australia (FLCA), United Liberian Associations of Ghana (ULAG), Liberian Association of Canada (LAC), Conference of Liberian Organizations in Southwestern United States of America (CLOSUSA), has proposed an “Act to Amend Part III, Chapter 20, Section 20.1; Chapter 21, Sections 21.30, 21.31, 21.51 and 21.52; and Chapter 22, Sections 22.1, 22.2 & 22.4. of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Liberian Codes of Law Revised, Vol. II.”

This fight by these group of Liberians began more than 10 years ago, during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. According to them, Madam Sirleaf’s administration did little or nothing to advance their cause for dual citizenship. They praised President George Weah, who in his first nation-wide address, made this a national discussion and promised to work with the legislature in order to get it passed into law.

Pres. Weah’s administration was successful in getting it being added to the list of referendum items in the December 2020 Special Senatorial Election. Unfortunately, it didn’t sail through as voters rejected it at the pools.  

However, this hasn’t dampened ALCOD’s hope. They have now decided to reach individual lawmaker. Mr. Kingstone Wleh, Co-Chairman, ALCOD, and Rev. Marcus Y. Sherman, Secretary-General, ULAA, Ghana, have already met with several legislators, including Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chea and Deputy House Speaker Jonathan Fonati Koffa.

Speaking with this newspaper recently, Mr. Wleh said this time around they are hoping that lawmakers can see the importance of the dual citizenship push that they in the diaspora have embarked upon. The ALCOD Co-chair argues that “once a Liberian should always be a Liberian,” and so they want the Liberia’s Alien and Nationality Law amended.

Wleh and Sherman are not just here to hand lawmakers their amended law and turn their backs, but they through ALCOD have decided to also partner with these legislators.

“We are interacting with them to see also how we, too, in the diaspora, can top into their different constituencies and counties so that we can help with projects that they are into and in return we can gain their support for them to pass the bill so that once a Liberian, always a Liberian,” Wleh, who was forced to Liberia in the early 1990s because of the civil war, stated.

It seems that the amended 1974 Alien and Nationality Law Section 22, which speaks of ‘Loss of Citizenship’ is what ALCOD thinks is a problem for them and needs to be repealed. 

Section 22.1 “Acts causing loss of citizenship. From and after the effective date of this title, a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his citizenship by (a) Obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon the application of a duly authorized agent, or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody of such person; provided that citizenship shall not be lost by any person under this section as the result of the naturalization of a parent or parents while such person under the age of 21 years, unless such person shall fail to enter Liberia to establish a permanent residence prior to his twenty-third birthday; (b) Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof; or (c) Exercising a free choice to enter or serve in the armed forces of a foreign state, unless, prior to such entry or service, such entry or service is specifically authorized by the President; (d) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or voting in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty of a foreign state over foreign territory; or (e) Making a formal renunciation of Liberian nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of Liberia in a foreign state in such form may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.”

Read their ALCOD’s draft amended law here.