LIS, Criminal Assizes “B” Hold Stakeholders Forum On Reform Of Naturalization Process

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The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), in collaboration with the Criminal Court “B”, Temple of Justice, is stepping up the reform process on obtaining Liberian citizenship through awareness of the process.

   Speaking Tuesday, March 29, on behalf of all ECOWAS Ambassadors, Guinean Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Abdoulaye Dore, noted that immigration in Africa is complicated as most neighboring countries have interrelated citizens and, as a result, to identify the difference between those bearing similar names is challenging.

   According to Ambassador Dore, laws are different in various ECOWAS countries, as such citizens traveling to them must abide by them. Therefore, he said he sees it prudent that procedures on naturalization be explained to those seeking citizenship in ECOWAS states.

   At the same time, he said he wants the government to make the fees leading to the process of naturalization and residency permit affordable for all, including low-income earners.

   “If you make the process exorbitant, people will not be able to pay, because we want people to get their original papers,” Ambassador Dore averred.

   For his part, Deputy Justice Minister, Nyante Twan, informed the gathering that the world is changing and Liberia must also change to suit current-day reality.

   He said it is against this backdrop that the need for change in the immigration law becomes important.

   Cllr. Twan further noted that the Liberia Immigration Forum will, at the same time, inform migrants about the laws governing their stay in the country, so they cannot be fooled by anyone.

   Also making a presentation at the forum, Liberia Immigration Commissioner General, Robert Budy, said Liberia’s naturalization process had long been an issue that continues to create an argument, for which according to him, the LIS and Criminal Court “B” see it prudent to inform the public on the process leading to obtaining citizenship.

   “Lawful and genuine obtaining of Liberian citizenship begins with the LIS and with all valid documents acceptable to travel through Liberia’s borders,” Commissioner Budy noted.

   According to him, obtaining a Liberian Naturalization Certificate through fraudulent means is punishable under the Laws of Liberia; as such, he wants those seeking citizenship to follow the right process.

   Budy further clarified that the increase in fees charge to obtain Liberian citizenship was discussed and agreed upon by relevant stakeholders.

   Currently, according to Commissioner Budy, there are LIS officers assigned at the Liberia Identification Registry, Birth Certificate Division and Passport Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure the right things are done.

   Meanwhile, Criminal Court “B” Judge, Ceaineh Clinton-Johnson, said there are several aliens across the country carrying citizenship certificate not issued by the court. These people, according to her, are not citizens of Liberia, because they have not complied with the laws of the country.

   “There are unscrupulous people who are issuing certificates to people who do not know how to follow the process, and they are walking around saying they are Liberian citizens when they are not,” Judge Clinton-Johnson underscored.

   She said these people will always face challenges of getting their passports because they will have to come back to the court and pass through the legitimate channel.

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