Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 July 2017
The Parliament of Sierra Leone yesterday Wednesday, 5th July 2017, enacted a Bill entitled “The Citizenship Amendment Act 2017”. The aim of the Bill is to amend the Citizenship Act of 1973, to recognise the right to citizenship of children born to Sierra Leonean women.
What this means is that for the first time, citizenship by birth has been granted by Law to a newly born through the mother, who is a Sierra Leonean citizen, even though the father may be of foreign origin.
Presenting the Bill to Parliament, the Minister of Internal Affairs – Pallo Conteh, said that “for far too long our female folks have not been captured in the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2006”.
He said Section 5 of the 1973 Act is to be repealed and replaced by the following new section; “Every person born outside Sierra Leone on or after the nineteenth day of April 1971 of a father or mother who was or would but for the death of the person, have been a citizen of Sierra Leone by birth….”
He informed Parliament that, the object of the Bill is to amend section 5 of the Citizenship Act of 1973 to take into cognizance the amendment made to the Citizenship Act in 2006, wherein citizenship by birth can now be granted directly through the mother.
He said the new clause proposes the insertion of the word “mother” to take into consideration the 2006 amendment.
In her contribution on the amendment, Hon. Jariatu Smith welcomed the initiative of government in giving the right to Sierra Leonean women who have children with foreign fathers to become Sierra Leoneans.
Hon. PC Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sankah III, referred to the amendment as “clean”. He called on the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Immigration Department to address the issue of people who have Sierra Leonean Passports, but are not Sierra Leoneans.
In concluding the debate, both the Majority Leader, Hon. Leonard Fofanah and the Acting Minority Leader, Hon Sidie Tunis welcomed the government’s amendment which will now accept children of Sierra Leonean women with foreign fathers as Sierra Leoneans.
Both Leaders pleaded with the Internal Affairs Ministry to address the issue of Sierra Leone Passports in the hands of foreigners.
The Bill was unanimously enacted after its third reading.
Will these children become future political leaders of Sierra Leone, and in the countries of their paternity where their fathers come from? Will a Lebanese, an Indian, Pakistani be a future President of Sierra Leone?
Mohamed Sheku Bah Kamara, I think those are good questions that I would also like to know the answer to. How would this new citizenship amendment play into the political arena of Sierra Leone? Does it mean a child born to a Lebanese father can now be a president of Sierra Leone? How does the law of the land define the legitimacy to run for the presidency?
I think this amendment will have a cascading effect in the political landscape of the nation. I will have to find out more about this.
This is a welcome news to those foreigners who have children with Sierra Leonean women. But the question is – does this amendment also qualify the father to have a Sierra Leonean citizenship straight away?