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18.07.2005 Diaspora News

Editorial: Taking Advantage of Ghana’s Dual Citizenship

Ghanaian News Canada

The campaign for an amendment of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to allow Ghanaians who have acquired citizenship of other countries to retain their Ghanaian citizenship continues. The campaign was given favorable hearing by both the NDC government of yester years and the NPP government of today. Subsequently, there is now the new citizenship law of Ghana, which was assented to on 29th December 2000 as Act 591. The new law which is supported by the Citizenship Regulations of 2001 (L. 1. 1960) and came into force on November 10, 2001 permits a citizen of Ghana to acquire the citizenship of another country without losing his/her Ghanaian citizenship.

The amended law was announced with all fanfare by the Defence Minister and then Acting Interior Minister Dr. Addo Kufour in November 2001. It was hoped overseas-resident Ghanaians especially those with dual citizenship were going to jump en-masse on the Dual Citizenship Bandwagon. But this has not happened. The attitude of Diaspora Ghanaians has not been as warm as expected. This sad and almost negative reception was noted by

His Excellency Mr. Samuel A.Odoi-Sykes, Ghana's High Commissioner to Canada when he addressed a forum on Dual Citizenship' organized by the Ghanaian-Canadian Association of Ontario (GCAO) recently in Toronto. He sadly observed that the reception so far accorded the amendment by Ghanaian Canadians, and Ghanaians in the Diaspora as a whole, has been rather lukewarm. Statistics show that in Canada, only 40 Ghanaian-Canadians have applied for 'Dual Citizenship' so far.

The Ghanaian News Canada share the sentiments expressed by His Excellency. We wish to draw the attention of the High Commissioner and the Ghana Government to some of the reasons accounting for the lukewarm attitude of Diaspora Ghanaians to the Dual Citizenship Law as currently amended. The sentiments we constantly hear from Diaspora Ghanaians is that the Act as it stands now is meaningless and contains a number of bottlenecks, which need to be removed. Many Diaspora Ghanaians especially in Canada, Britain and certain parts of Europe express the view that they see no need applying for a birthright they never gave up in the first place but was taken away from them for reasons best known to the government at that time. They contend that if the NPP government has realized that an injustice has been committed against Diaspora Ghanaians, all that they need to do is to repeal the Law. Another sticking point is the obvious restrictions placed on Dual citizens preventing them from holding certain political and administrative positions in Ghana. It clearly makes dual citizens second-class citizens at best.

Just being issued with a Ghanaian Passport on becoming a dual citizen and being able to travel to Ghana without restrictions or being able to register for and work in certain jobs in Ghana are not enough. Citizen rights are rights are rights. There should definitely not be any restrictions.

We therefore entreat the Ghana government to take the necessary steps to remove these obvious anomalies and bottlenecks. There is also the need to adequately inform Ghanaians in Diaspora on whatever advantages one will gain from the dual citizenship of Ghana as it stands now. Many people have concerns and they need to be clarified. In the meantime for those who wish to apply, application forms for the dual citizenship are obtainable from Ghana's Ministry of Interior through Ghana's Missions abroad (High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates). It costs $100 to register.