Botswana: Dual citizenship bill deferred to allow consultation

Published: 1/Mar/2018
Source: Botswana Daily News

Parliament has been informed that the second reading of the Citizenship Amendment Bill was deferred to allow the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs to consult further with other ministries about possible consequential amendments to their pieces of legislation.

Minister Edwin Batshu, who was responding to a parliamentary question on Wednesday, said during consultations, the Attorney General had indicated that there were 34 pieces of legislation that would require consequential amendments, should dual citizenship be adopted.

The minister, who pointed out that the bill had been first presented to Parliament for first reading in April last year, noted that the 34 pieces of legislation were those in which the word ‘citizen’ appeared.

He said if the Citizenship Act was amended to include dual citizenship, the laws would all have to be reviewed to indicate whether in those laws the word ‘citizen’ would also imply ‘dual citizenship’.

Mr Batshu said some of the 34 pieces of legislation included the Constitution of Botswana, BDF, police, DCEC, prisons and DISS acts, among others.

He said the advice had been that it would not be prudent to amend those for now as the move would land the country in an abyss.

“This is on the basis that the constitution allows for equality before the law and that there is no room for discrimination against citizens with dual loyalty, and that dual citizens are entitled to the same rights and privileges that indigenous citizens enjoy,” he stated.

Mr Batshu explained that the ministry had further consulted with the Attorney General and Cabinet on the legal stipulations and implications of dual citizenship and to propose a viable dispensation to facilitate Batswana who may lose or may have lost their citizenship by virtue of Section 15.

He said based on the consultations and advice given to his ministry, he had decided to change cause from pursuing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was to introduce dual citizenship in restricted circumstances.

In addition, he said the ministry was currently working with the Attorney General to make provision to allow Botswana citizens by birth or descent, who lose their citizenship by operation of Section 15 of the Citizenship Act, to visit their relatives in Botswana with ease and further facilitate those who might want to work and contribute to the economy of Botswana even after obtaining the citizenship of another country.

Minister Batshu indicated that the process to amend such a sensitive piece of legislation had taken long because it necessitated extensive consultations with due diligence as it affected the lives of people in a wide spectrum.

Member of Parliament for Francistown South, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi had asked the minister when the dual citizenship bill would be brought to Parliament.

The legislator had also wanted to know why the process had taken so long. ENDS

Source : BOPA

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Themes: Dual Nationality
Regions: Botswana
Year: 2018