Constitutional reform: dual citizenship – Stabroek News

‘Dual citizenship is attractive for many reasons, but there are times when it should not be tolerated. Serving as a country’s elected official at the national level is one of those times. No congressman or senator should have even the appearance of split allegiance brought about by dual citizenship ‘(

The discourse about the right of dual Guyanese citizens to become parliamentarians, government ministers, etc., emerged after the 2018 no confidence (NCM) proposal. As a senator for many years and unlike many 15 Australian MPs who in 2017 did not realize that dual citizens could not sit in parliament, I was aware that it was illegal for MPs to be dual citizens but as with so many laws ancient I treat the situation as a relic which is not unusual in any jurisdiction. Indeed, this behavior is so widespread that desuetude’s legal doctrine holds that long and persistent non-application of a law makes it invalid and sufficient notice of the intention to resume enforcement is required if the courts are to punish criminals. The NCM and its consequences were the catalyst that forced us into a series of important considerations that will undoubtedly be on the agenda of any future constitutional reform process.

There are advantages to being dual citizens. They and their families usually have access to two social welfare systems and services; able to work and improve their education and skills in either country without the need for a work permit; children can usually attend school for the local fee, they can own property in either country where ownership is restricted to citizens, and have two passports that could use them for easier access and stay longer in many other countries. On the other hand, depending on how you look at it, dual citizens may have to do military service and pay taxes in both countries and may not be able to hold certain jobs in one or both countries . However, more importantly for this discourse, they are bound by two sets of laws and can be protected or followed by both countries.

Of the 196 countries in the world, about 40 do not allow dual citizenship and many have different types of citizen’s rights restrictions. The United States of America has no legal restrictions on dual citizens, but history has shown that entering politics as one can be a major disadvantage: that’s why the quote above. In addition, being a dual citizen can prevent you from obtaining the security clearance necessary to access certain sensitive employment. ( disadvantages-dis disadvantages-dual-citizenship.asp). In the United Kingdom dual citizens have the right to vote, become an MP and most other British citizenship rights. But under international law the UK government cannot provide diplomatic assistance when you are in your home country (

Singapore does not allow dual citizenship, but a foreign-born child of Singaporean parents acquiring the citizenship of the country of birth may hold dual citizenship until the age of 21. The Chinese government does not recognize dual citizenship and once you become a citizen of another country you immediately lose Chinese citizenship. Like others in the Middle East, in the United Kingdom (United Arab Emirates) monarchy – whose prince recently visited Guyana – dual citizenship is banned and the right to vote or be a member of parliament is restricted restricted to Emirati citizens by ‘descent’ (

In Israel, diplomats and members of parliament must renounce any other citizenship before taking office. In the Philippines, dual citizens cannot run for any local elective office and in Colombia, dual citizens cannot be ministers of foreign affairs or defense. While nationals from any Commonwealth country who meet the local residence requirements are eligible to vote in elections and run for parliament in many CARICOM countries, anyone who by virtue of their own act is any recognition of loyalty, obedience or attachment to a foreign power. or a ‘state’ that could be barred from becoming a member of parliament! Guyana has a liberal citizenship regime that allows citizenship by birth, descent, naturalization or marriage. Dual citizenship is recognized and dual citizens can vote in national and regional elections, but they are not allowed to sit in parliament or become government ministers. ( /docid/492ac7c9c.html).

In 2018, Guyana received some US $ 334m or approximately 8.1% of GDP payments and can benefit even more by leveraging the skills of the diaspora if a more creative diaspora policy is implemented (Future Notes, SN: 07/11 / 2012; 28/10/2020). Unlike any primitive consideration, those who advocate for dual citizens in parliament and government tend to make these benefits the master plan of their claim, pointing out that there are no serious disadvantages to dual citizens. are senators, etc. This is not, however, what the NCM suggested to me.

First, dual citizens are bound and covered by two sets of laws and this complicates the issue of sovereignty when, as in the case of the NCM, a violation of international law, high officials of a second country embassy took advantage of a safe haven to facilitate its citizen. Secondly, as a result of the NCM a few people were required to surrender their foreign citizenship and some refused, clearly demonstrating a shared loyalty. We cannot know for sure the depth of their feelings which is why obtaining security clearance for specific employment in the USA and Britain is becoming problematic. Third, dual citizens are subject to two sets of laws and can be protected and the consequences of this for political policy makers during and after their term of office are unknown.

In passing and interestingly, since the early 1830s, the doctrine of international law ‘dominant and effective nationality’ has stated that a dual citizen will have one fundamental nationality and one sub-nationality and allows a court / tribunal to decide what is that nationality in particular. situations. Applied to some trade rules, it allows dual citizens to sue the sub-country for non-treatment as it promises to treat the citizens of the primary country. In one such case an international tribunal found that the claimants sued their effective nationality as what they considered dominant was their lower nationality. (!

Lest it be mistaken, my stance here has nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of the NCM 2018. I just want to point out that it raised some interesting issues and when considering dual citizenship policy more than the ethical position should be considered more or less quoted above and the dollars and cents method. One can never assess the consequences of complex international laws and rules on state control and it is better to be safe than sorry. This is why many countries, especially those that rely on international law for their survival, believe it is safer to underpin their sovereignty and security by not having dual citizens at certain levels government policy.

[email protected]