Source: Awoko (Freetown)
The Immigration Department has held a press conference to unveil the Naturalization and Citizenship Application pack at their head office at Rawdon Street in Freetown.
The pack contains the criterion and procedure by which non Sierra Leoneans are accorded Sierra Leonean citizenship.
During the press conference, Mr. Micheal M. Bassie, P.R. Manager stated that since 1996 to 2007, no naturalization took place under the governance of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, but that the National Provisional Ruling Council did mass naturalization, especially to Chinese and Korean Nationals.
He also stated that Isaiah Washington was naturalized by the A.P.C. Government after D.N.A. proved that he is of a Sierra Leonean decent.
He further disclosed that the Naturalization and Citizenship Committee has been established and comprises officials from the Immigration Department, Office of National Security, Police, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Office of the President.
The P. R. Manager also stated that their major responsibility is to conduct interviews and make recommendations of interested applicants to the President who finally gives his assent before naturalization is accredited by a Sierra Leonean Passport.
Mr. Bassie said that the Sierra Leone Constitution confers citizenship to foreigners and not the Immigration Department, and if a foreigner resides in Sierra Leone for 8 years he/ she could be naturalized, and that a naturalized citizen can vote and be voted for.
He added that the proposed fee for naturalization is currently before Cabinet for approval and Immigration charges for passport, residential permit and others are collected by the National Revenue Authority.
The Chief Immigration Officer, Alpha Kholifa Koroma, disclosed that his department has conducted research within the sub-region about fees paid for naturalization and that the department is working in line with the existing international Immigration Laws and the 2006 Immigration Act which minimizes the procedure to acquire citizenship through Naturalization
He further stated that Sierra Leone does not have Migration law which is now in the pipeline, and disclosed further that the President is the Chairperson of the Naturalization and Citizenship Committee and that the Immigration Department will not be held responsible if someone is refused Naturalization.