Sierra Leone

Citizenship in Sierra Leone is governed by the 1973 Citizenship Act, which was amended in 2006 to grant the right of dual citizenship and citizenship by birth directly through the mother for children born in Sierra Leone; this was extended to children born outside the country in 2017. However, the law continues to discriminate on the basis of race, providing that the individual establish their citizenship through a person who “is or was of Negro descent.”

The Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review for Sierra Leone noted that the definition of citizenship was problematic. The government of Sierra Leone reportedly accepted that the definition in the 1973 Citizenship Act was problematic and pledged to include the issue in the upcoming constitutional review process. This issue of discrimination has been particularly relevant to Lebanese migrants to the country.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed concern over the lack of a systematic birth registration system in Sierra Leone, which makes identifying and verifying the ages of children more difficult. The Committee has called on Sierra Leone to improve registration practices.

Refugee issues also plague Sierra Leone, both in refugees from neighboring countries residing in Sierra Leone, and also Sierra Leonean refugees living in other countries.

Key Resources