Liberia: The Supreme Court Ruling in the Jalloh Case and “Proposition One” are Entirely Different

Published: 28/Oct/2020
Source: Front Page Africa (Monrovia)

In September 2019, the Legislature adopted a Joint Resolution (“The Resolution”) proposing a constitutional referendum to amend various articles of the Liberian Constitution. Proposition One of the Resolution (“The Proposition”) seeks to amend article 28 (art. 28) of the Constitution, repeal (by implication) section 22.1 of the Alien and Nationality Law, and grant all Liberians the right to acquire another nationality without losing their Liberian citizenship. This Proposition is significant because many Liberians believe that art. 28 prohibits dual citizenship under all circumstances.

Report by Edward E. Dillon, Contributing Writer

However, the Proposition restricts those with dual citizenship from occupying certain positions in the government. It states that those with dual citizenship “shall not qualify for elected national or public service positions…”, unless they renounce the other citizenship. These restricted positions include Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, ministers and deputy ministers, heads of autonomous commissions, agencies and non-academic research and scientific institutions, ambassadors, chief of staff and deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Before this proposed Referendum, Teage Jalloh (“Jalloh”), a Liberian citizen who was born in Liberia to both Liberian parents, traveled to the United States and became a U.S. citizen. When he attempted to travel back to Liberia, the Liberian Embassy in Washington D.C. informed him that he needed a visa to re-enter Liberia because he lost his Liberian citizenship when he acquired U.S citizenship. Section 22.1 of the Aliens and Nationality Law provides that “…a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or otherwise naturalization, shall lose his citizenship by…obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application…” Ruling in his case in 2019, the Supreme Court held that the government was wrong for depriving Jalloh of his Liberian citizenship without due process of law.

Since the Ruling, some Liberians in the diaspora have asserted that the Proposition is no longer necessary. This is not my understanding of the interpretation of the ruling of the Supreme Court. Although there exist some similarities between the Proposition and the Ruling, the former seeks to achieve an entirely different outcome than the latter.

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Themes: Dual Nationality
Regions: Liberia
Year: 2020