Time for Liberia to Do Away With Archaically Racist ‘Nationality Law’
Source: Front Page Africa (Monrovia)
Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Branches of Government Must Explore Best Option to Change Trend
AT THE HEIGHT of the civil war, countries around the world opened their doors to Liberians fleeing mayhem, chaos, destruction and war.
MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN ran helter, skelter for shelter in hopes of finding refuge wherever they could find it. In the process, many took advantage of indiscriminate laws and immigration policies that made them citizens.
THEIR STATUS in those countries became a blessing for the many they left behind. Liberians armed with new citizenships and residence status was able to assist their friends, families and loved ones recovering from war.
NOW THAT THE war is over, and Liberia is picking up the pieces, many remain puzzled that the country whose citizens benefited from goodwill and favourable nationality laws in other countries ranks among a few countries across the globe only conferring nationality solely on the basis of race.
UNDER THE TERMS of Chapter 20 of the Aliens and Nationality Law (based on Article 27(b) of the Constitution), citizenship applies to any “person who is a Negro, or of Negro descent, born in Liberia and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” or “person born outside Liberia whose father (i) was born a citizen of Liberia; (ii) was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the birth of such child, and (iii) had resided in Liberia prior to the birth of such child.” These provisions have been criticized as discriminatory on the basis of both race and sex.
ARTICLE V, SECTION 13 of the 1847 Constitution which states: “The great object of forming these Colonies, being to provide a home for the dispersed and oppressed children of Africa, and to regenerate and enlighten this benighted continent, none but persons of color shall be eligible to citizenship in this Republic.” The phrasing “persons of color” was changed to “Negroes or persons of Negro descent” in a 1955 revision.
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