Constitution and Laws of Liberia are clear with regards to the citizenship issue

George K Fahnbulleh, MCP

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 4, 2005


The last paragraph of Mr. Hodge’s rejoinder to the C. Alake Williams does a disservice to his readers.

He writes:" The Liberian constitution does not clearly address the issue of dual-citizenship. We can at least conclude that the issue remains ambiguous and ambivalent." This is incorrect. It would be of great service to his readers to go through exactly what the Constitution of Liberia says with regards to citizenship. The document speaks in clear language and where it does not specifically say something it directly confers the power to do so to the Legislature.

Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution States:

Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the person's birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.

The Renunciation clause in Article 28 gives clear guidance that citizens of Liberia beyond the age of majority must only hold Liberian citizenship.

The next sentence "No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law" confers on the Legislature the responsibility to enact laws regarding loss of citizenship.

One may try to argue no law has been enacted under this Constitution with regards to citizenship; however, Article 95 of the Constitution states:

Article 95
(a) The Constitution of the Republic of Liberia which came into force on the 26th day of July 1847, and which was suspended on the 12th day of April 1980, is hereby abrogated. Notwithstanding this abrogation, however, any enactment or rule of law in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, whether derived from the abrogated Constitution or from any other source shall, in so far as it is not inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution, continue in force as if enacted, issued or made under the authority of this Constitution.

This section of the Constitution gives voice and full force to the pre-existing Alien and Naturalization Laws of Liberia. The Alien and Naturalization Laws of Liberia deal clearly and directly with loss of citizenship. The Law states:

§ 22.1. Acts causing loss of citizenship.
From and after the effective date of this title, a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his citizenship by

a) Obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon the application of a duly authorized agent, or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody of such person; provided that citizenship shall not be lost by any person under this section as the result of the naturalization of a parent or parents while such person under the age of 21 years, unless such person shall fail to enter Liberia to establish a permanent residence prior to his twenty-third birthday, or

My Opinion
Section (a) clearly states that simply naturalizing in a foreign state, results in loss of Liberian Citizenship. One does not have to specifically "renounce" his/her Liberian citizenship to lose. So, for example, if the naturalization oath of a country does not include a renunciation clause, taking such an oath would still result in loss of his/her Liberian citizenship. End

(b) Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof; or

(c) Exercising a free choice to enter or serve in the armed forces of a foreign state, unless, prior to such entry or service, such entry or service is specifically authorized by the President;

(d) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or voting in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty of a foreign state over foreign territory; or

(e) Making a formal renunciation of Liberian nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of Liberia in a foreign state in such form may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.

The Alien and Naturalization Laws further go on to state:

§ 22.2. Citizenship lost solely from performance of act. The loss of citizenship under Section 22.1. of this title shall result solely from the performance by a citizen of the acts or fulfillment of the conditions specified in such section, and without the institution by the Government of any proceedings to nullify or cancel such citizenship.

So the Constitution and Laws of Liberia are clear with regards to the citizenship issue. Former Liberians who have become citizens of other countries, may want to appeal for the enactment of new laws to accommodate them; however, the laws as they are right now are clear.