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Feature Article of Saturday, 27 July 2002

Columnist: Press

EDITORIAL: Dual Citizenship is Legalized

Ghanaian News Canada


After months of foot-dragging, the NPP government has finally launched the Dual Citizenship Regulation Act on Wednesday July 3. In launching the Act, The Minister of Defence, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor who is also the Acting Minister of Interior said that Ghanaians with foreign nationalities who wish to become Ghanaian citizens could now do so "upon the completion of the necessary documentation. "...I can now clearly state that the government's policy of making it possible for all Ghanaians living abroad to become citizens of Ghana as well as citizens of other countries, is now a reality", Dr. Kufuor emphasized.

We however wish to point out that the regulations as announced by the Minister are fraught with a number of serious flaws, administrative bottlenecks and inconsistencies.

First is the issue of "application". With the exception of Ghanaian-Americans who may have been required to renounce their Ghanaian citizenship before becoming American citizens, majority of overseas Ghanaians with other nationalities especially Canadians and British were not required to renounce their Ghanaian citizenships. Many of these were born in Ghana. Asking them to reapply for a birthright that they never renounced in the first place is wrong.

We therefore submit that if applications need to be submitted for Ghanaian citizenships, they should be limited to those who were born outside Ghana and those that were required to legally renounce their Ghanaian citizenship before taking on foreign ones. Applying the application procedure on a blanket omnibus scale is wrong to say the least and legally wrong at worse.

Secondly, we believe there is no need for the cumbersome, legally complex regulations that the Act requires for implementation. We know that Legislative Instruments and Acts of Parliament are usually written in long winding complex language designed for only lawyers to understand. But when it comes to the implementation stage, they should be designed for the simple common understanding of the ordinary citizens on the street for whom the laws were enacted in the first place.

Recognizing the complex legal webs in which the Dual Citizenship laws are enveloped, the Acting Interior Minister promised that the Government "will provide lawyers and experts to guide those who may have difficulties dealing with the regulations". But why do we have to knowingly create problems in the first place and look for complex ways to solve them? We know from previous experiences that anytime certain measures are introduced in Ghana that borders on travel and overseas residents, they end up creating conditions for certain unscrupulous people in Ghana to make money illegally.

We know about passport acquisition in Ghana. Many people have enriched themselves at the expense of desperate potential travelers seeking just a passport, which does not even guarantee that the person can travel. Out of the passport business came the issuing of birth certificates. Overnight, employees at the hitherto obscure department of Birth and Deaths Registry also become tin gods and enriched themselves at the expense of passport seekers who needed birth certificates to prove their Ghanaian identity. Along the same passport highway, were two photo shops in Accra where all potential passport applicants were required to take their passport photographs. These photo-shops become instant millionaires.

We are now being told that certain legal experts are being set up to "assist" potential Dual Citizenship applicants go through their "application process". Are we not creating another avenue for these legal "experts" to enrich themselves at the expense of desperate overseas Ghanaians wanting to reclaim their birthright? We are not crying wolf. We entreat everyone to take note of this alarm bells we are sounding. They will become realities in the not-too-distant- future. At that point the legal "experts" might have become too much of a nuisance and embarrassment to the government which will then be seeking ways to close down their legal "expert shops".

We therefore entreat the NPP government to revisit the Dual Citizenship Implementation regulations and remove these bottlenecks before they become monsters that may be too cumbersome to dismantle. Most importantly, the clause requiring ALL overseas Ghanaians to re-apply for their Ghanaian citizenship should be modified. We once again submit that those that never renounced their Ghanaian citizenship need NOT be required to apply for a "re-instatement" of something they never gave away.

We need ALL Ghanaians aboard the reconstruction train. No impediments should be consciously put in the way of certain groups who have greater potentials to assist the nation. Living overseas should not be seen as a "crime" for which these groups of people are constantly being asked to pay a heavy price.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.


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