Source: GLOBALCIT, European University Institute
By Amadu Wurie Khan
Sierra Leone’s history,like that of other colonised African countries,has shaped the country’s citizenship laws in particular ways.The transatlantic slave trade, inward migration by Africans and non–Africans, and the fight for self–rule and decolonisation predicated on a pan–African nationalist ideology are constitutive of these experiences. Sierra Leone’s internecine war during the 1990s and the post–war efforts at resettlement, reconciliation and development continue to form the backdrop of current debates. Membership of international institutions such as ECOWAS, the UN and the African Union also continue to influence its citizenship regime. Consequently, Sierra Leone’s current citizenship laws, which shared a lot of commonalities at independence, have gradually diverged from other Anglophone colonial territories of West Africa –Nigeria, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), and the Gambia.
This analysis explores the continuities and divergencies of Sierra Leone’s citizenship regime comparative to other African countries. It highlights the dynamics of race and ethnicity, entrepreneurial and forced migration, gender, post–civil war reconciliation and development, and international laws in shaping modes of citizenship: ius sanguinis, ius soli, ius domicili, ius matrimonii, and dual citizenship. The analysis also considers how citizenship modes of acquisition and loss, which were once modelled along the British colonial power at the time of independence, have evolved over time.
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