MONROVIA – The Liberian Senate on Thursday voted in the majority in favor of the passage of the amended Alien and Nationality Law. The Senate vote Thursday was a concurrence vote as the House of Representatives had earlier passed the bill.
However, there will be the need for a conference committee as the two Houses passed two separate versions of the Bill. In keeping with the need for a conference committee, the Senate Pro-Temp Albert Chie named a six-man Senate Committee to meet with the House of Representatives Committee to harmonize the bill.
Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape-Mount County will chair the Senate’s committee. Sen. Sherman is the Senate’s Committee Chair on Judiciary.
The Senate secured 18 votes for the passage while two Senators including Willington Geevon Smith of River-Cess County, and Simeon Taylor of Grand Cape Mount County abstained from the process.
Senator Smith said he abstained from the process because there are some ambiguities in the law. “I am one of that many Senators who believe that a Liberian is always a Liberian but there are certain things in that bill that I don’t understand and because of that I am abstaining,” he said.
Senator Taylor could not vote for or against the bill because as a new member of the Senate he didn’t understand the genesis of the bill, he said.
Lawmakers representing Lofa and Maryland Counties were absent from session. FrontPageAfrica was unable to establish whether or not they voted from their various counties where it is believed that they are concluding visits to their constituents.
Article 28 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 Act, which was co-sponsored by 30 lawmakers from the House of Representatives, was submitted by the Chief sponsor, Rep. Acarous Gray and read on the Plenary of the House on November 2, 2021, seeks to amend Part III, Chapter 20, Section 20.1; Chapter 21, Sections 21.30, 21.31, 21.51 & 21.52 and Chapter 22, Sections 22.1, 22.1 & 22.4 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Liberian Code of Law Revised, Vol. II.
According to the crafters of the bill, the current law as it exists is repugnant to and is inconsistent with Article 11 (b) &(C), 27 and 28 relating to equal protection under the law (Fundamental Rights) and citizenship.
The crafters also noted those inconsistencies as observed by the committee’s findings, the framers of the 1986 Constitution requested the legislature to prescribe other standards and criteria, and procedures by which Liberian citizenship may be obtained.
According to them, the amendment or repeal of these laws will satisfy the constitutional provision of Article 2 (2) of the 1986 Constitution which states: Any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs, and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect. The Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional.