The attention of *Grassroots Action for National Development (GRAND)* Sierra Leone and its global membership has been drawn to the recent legal conundrum in Sierra Leone on the right of Sierra Leoneans holding dual citizenship to vie for and occupy certain elective positions in Sierra Leone, including being Members of Parliament, Vice President and President.
G...RAND Sierra Leone has instructed its lawyers to review the various provisions of both the Constitution of Sierra Leone (Act No. 6) 1991 which in Section 76(1)(a) purportedly provides certain limitations on persons holding citizenship by voluntary naturalization to be elected to Parliament and the Sierra Leone Citizenship (Amendment Act No. 11) 2006 which, by Section 10 thereof, wholesome and without qualification makes dual citizenship legal in Sierra Leone;
GRAND Sierra Leone notes that over the past decade, since the passing of the Sierra Leone Citizenship (Amendment Act No. 11) 2006, several officials of State, including Parliamentarians and Government Ministers, have occupied their positions while at the same time holding dual citizenship and this has done no harm whatsoever to the interest of Sierra Leone or otherwise jeopardized their ability to perform their functions. It should also be noted that when Section 76(1) of the Constitution was crafted, dual citizenship did not exist. Therefore, it appears that the section should ordinarily apply to Sierra Leoneans who had ceased to be nationals by acquiring a foreign citizenship, and not those who continue to remain Sierra Leoneans, a situation created by the amendment to the Citizenship Act;
GRAND Sierra Leone further notes that many Sierra Leoneans have, during the course of several decades, in search of greener pastures or fleeing war or harsh conditions created by war, have had to acquire dual citizenship of their adopted countries without in any way desiring that their right to vote and to be voted for be deprived and many more have in recent years returned home and are willing to return to continue in the rebuilding process of their home country; and the shift towards clawing-back the right to be voted for is likely to inhibit such patriotism driven moves;
GRAND Sierra Leone believes that the recent action by political parties to deprive compatriots with dual citizenship political party symbols which would enable them contest elections is against the spirit and intent of the Sierra Leone Citizenship (Amendment Act No. 11) 2006, wholly unfair to a class of citizens’ right to enfranchisement, and is calculated to wrongly deprive them of their human rights without proper lawful justification or due process of law. The Amendment of 2006 was a subsequent legislation which creates a strong presumption that Parliament had shifted from the position in the Constitution and that issues of citizenship should be interpreted progressively to ensure that dual citizenship holders are not deprived of the benefit of any lacuna or doubt that is created by that shift. To the contrary, any lacuna or doubt in the law should be resolved in favour of the right of the citizen.
In light of the above, GRAND Sierra Leone believes that the right to enfranchisement or suffrage guaranteed by the Constitution is a two-way formula – the right to vote and to be voted for and is hereby calling on all Sierra Leoneans to rally around their compatriots who are about to be wrongly deprived of their right to be voted for in the forthcoming general and Presidential elections. We should all also conscientiously work together to reform the laws so as to avoid any clawing back on citizens' rights.
Long Live GRAND Sierra Leone!
Long Live Universal Human Rights!
Long Live Sierra Leone!!
GRAND is a non-profit, humanitarian organisation whose membership is open to all Sierra Leoneans.
The objectives of GRAND include, but not limited to:
1. To undertake humanitarian and developmental projects and activities, specifically targeting the underprivileged, vulnerable and marginalised in our society, particularly women and children.
2. To promote and support good governance and the rule of law through advocacy, constructive criticism and awareness raising interventions.
3. To act as a pressure group to ensure accountability of government, government functionaries and other public servants.
Address: 24 ECOWAS Street, Freetown.