Monday, July 12, 2010

'Unconstitutional': Suit In U.S. Challenges Automatic Loss Of Liberian Citizenship

Cllr. Alvin T. Jalloh
Named in suit: Nathaniel Barnes, Liberia's Ambassador to the U.S.
Named in suit: Foreign Minister Banke King Akerele
Named in suit: Justice Minister Cristiana Tah
Source: FrontPageAfrica

UNCONSTITUTIONAL: “The lawsuit also challenges as unconstitutional several provisions of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia (provisions), which seek to deprive a Liberian of his or her Liberian citizenship without due process of law. The lawsuit does not ask the Liberian government to recognize dual citizenship, nor does it ask the government to recognize my American citizenship. The lawsuit does, however, require the Liberian government to respect all of my rights as a natural-born citizen of Liberia, including but not limited to my constitutional right to due process of law.”

At the height of the Liberian civil war many fled their homeland to seek refugee and a safe haven away from the guns of war. With peace now returned and post-war democracy in full swing, many of those in the Diaspora appears to have lost out on the happenings back home. Several nominees to appointed positions have been either rejected or turned down for positions in the post-war government simply because they chose to take up citizenship in a foreign land. Now, one Liberian lawyer based in the United States of America has had enough and is taking his homeland to court – in the United States.

Named in suit: Nathaniel Barnes, Liberia's Ambassador to the U.S.

Teage’s lawsuit comes in the wake of the rejection of several Diaspora-based Liberians seeking jobs in post-war Liberia. In 2009, the Senate Committee on Judiciary failed to conduct confirmation hearings on Sam Russ, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs-designate of the Ministry of Justice. Following this reply, Sinoe County Senior Senator Nyenpan asked the nominee whether he had an American passport in his possession since he (nominee) had spent a long period of time in the USA. “Yes, I do have an American passport in my possession as an American citizen,” came Mr. Russ's reply.

After noticing that some members of the Committee appeared disturbed by his answer, Russ told the Committee that he would denounce his American citizenship when confirmed by the Liberian Senate. Russ was then asked whether he had been admitted into the Liberian Bar Association that is responsible for admitting Liberians lawyers to practice law in the country.

Weeks after Russ’ surrendered his U.S. citizenship, another nominee, Samuel Momolu Lynch was also denied nomination for the post of Commandant of the Liberia National Coast Guard by the Security Committee of the Senate. During Lynch’s hearing, Lynch confirmed serving the American Army especially that Country’s Coast Guard for thirteen years. Despite his pledged of allegiance to the United States, he told the Senate Security Committee he remains a citizen of Liberia. However, Senators Mobutu Nyepan, Blamo Nelson and Sumo Kupee said it was against Liberian laws to confirm anyone who pledged their allegiance to another country. Others who have also fallen prey to the nationality dilemma are former Minister of Public Works Luseni Dunzo and Deputy Defense Minister Dionysius Sebwe among others.

Named in suit: Foreign Minister Banke King Akerele

Now, Attorney Alvin Teage Jalloh, represented by Counsel Jerome G. Korkoya on Monday, July 12, 2010 filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, challenging what he says is the Liberian government’s erroneous and unconstitutional assumption that a Liberian automatically loses his or her Liberian citizenship when that Liberian becomes a naturalized citizen of a foreign country, votes in a foreign election, or serves in a foreign armed forces without prior approval from the President of Liberia.

According to Teage, the lawsuit challenges as unconstitutional the arbitrary visa demand by the Liberian government, which only requires certain Liberian citizens to obtain nonimmigrant visas before they maybe permitted to enter Liberia.

Says Teage: “The lawsuit also challenges as unconstitutional several provisions of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia (provisions), which seek to deprive a Liberian of his or her Liberian citizenship without due process of law. The lawsuit does not ask the Liberian government to recognize dual citizenship, nor does it ask the government to recognize my American citizenship. The lawsuit does, however, require the Liberian government to respect all of my rights as a natural-born citizen of Liberia, including but not limited to my constitutional right to due process of law.”

Named in suit: Justice Minister Cristiana Tah
Teage further notes that Article 20(a) of the Liberian Constitution is one of our most important protections against arbitrary rule. “It prohibits all levels of the Liberian government, including the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary from depriving any person of life, liberty, property, privilege, or any other right without a hearing and a judgment consistent with due process of law.”

Ignoring this clear prohibition, Teage asserts that the government continues to use the challenged provisions, which lack any semblance of due process, as reasons to deprive me and tens of thousands of similarly situated Liberian citizens of our constitutional rights. “The government has gone as far as to require several of its natural-born citizens to become “naturalized” Liberians, on the erroneous assumption they lost their statuses as natural-born Liberian citizens.”

Such actions, Teage laments, have a chilling effect that inhibits the exercise of constitutionally protected rights, especially among Liberians who lack the financial means or willingness to challenge them. Moreover, Teage says, calling something a “law,” that clearly does not have the force of law, will not advance respect for the rule of law. The challenged provisions cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.

Any first-year law student can tell you the challenged provisions, by their expressed terms, violate the due process clause of the Liberian Constitution. The only question here is whether the Liberian government, which advertises itself as a government of laws and not of men, can enforce provisions the Constitution does not recognize as law. I believe, and the Constitution tells us, the answer is no.

Teage’s lawsuit in the U.S. comes as a a network of Liberians in the Diaspora have been intensifying campaign for the passage of a dual citizenship bill in Liberia. Recently, a delegation of the European Federation of Liberian Associations visited Monrovia to prevail on Lawmakers to push the bill through. The President of the group said it was important to pass the dual citizenship bill to allow Liberians with dual nationalities to help develop their native Country. Mr. John Nimly Brownell said the dual citizenship bill will also pave the way for Liberians in other parts of the world to bring investment into their Country. He argued that Liberia belongs to all Liberians who were born here but because of the war they naturalized in other Countries.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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