Ghana: Shalabi v. Attorney-General

Published: 26/Nov/1971
Source: High Court of Ghana


The facts:

The plaintiffs had been born to Lebanese parents in the Gold Coast becoming citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth. The Gold Coast became independent as the State of Ghana in 1957. In 1968 the plaintiffs renounced their citizenship of the United Kingdom and applied for Ghanaian passports under the Ghana Nationality Decree 1967,1 which granted Ghanaian citizenship to citizens of the United Kingdom who had been born in Ghana prior to independence. In 1969 the National Liberation Council promulgated the Ghana Nationality (Amendment) Decree which stated that it amended the Council’s earlier decree and which restricted citizenship to those born in Ghana with at least one parent or grandparent born in Ghana. The 1989 Decree was stated to have come into force on the same day in 1967 as the earlier decree had done. The plaintiffs applied for a declaration that they were Ghanaian nationals.


(1) The National Liberation Council had established itself as an interim government by the Proclamation of 1968, following the overthrow of the previous regime. As an interim government its powers were limited to what was necessary for the administration and good government of the country. It was not omnipotent. These powers did not include the power to deprive those to whom citizenship had been granted of their Ghanaian nationality. Nationality once granted could only be lost through the due process laid down in the instrument which granted it.

(2) Although the 1969 Decree was stated to have come into force on the same day as the 1967 Decree had done, there was no question that the plaintiffs had in fact been granted Ghanaian nationality by the earlier measure. Deprivation of citizenship was a most serious step and in the absence of express deprivation of nationality in the 1969 Decree it must be presumed that the Council had not intended the measure to have that

(3) The fact that it might be administratively inconvenient or undesirable that persons whose parents and grandparents were not born in Ghana should have Ghanaian nationality did not affect the position.

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Themes: Naturalisation et le mariage, Perte et déchéance de la nationalité
Regions: Ghana
Year: 1971