“Dual Citizenship Eventual, but Not a Priority”

first_imgThe nationwide debate on the claim to legitimate ownership of Liberia continues to be tested with zeal, heightened by the controversial dual citizenship clause proposed for Liberia. In recent years, the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) toured the country and sought the views of Liberians on changes or amendments to certain clauses in the Constitution and came up with a list of 24 propositions for referendum – among them, dual citizenship and the right of people of non-negro descent, to be allowed to attain Liberian citizenship.In what was described by other Liberian academics as ‘a very meaningful contribution to the dual citizenship debate’, a young Liberian scholar, Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey, presented her doctorate thesis on the topic on Wednesday, April 20, at the University of Liberia auditorium, with some fellow Liberian scholars and other members of the Liberian society in attendance. Her thesis research work which was done at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, is entitled “The Love of Liberty Divided Us Here” and cataloged factors leading to the introduction postponed passage of a dual citizenship bill in the Liberian Legislature. The postponed status of the proposed bill happens to sum up her thoughts about the matter, given her findings from interviews of 209 Liberians residing in Europe, the United States of America and West Africa. In a nutshell, according to Dr. Pailey, a decision on dual citizenship is nowhere near the top of the list of priorities for most Liberians, at the present time. Moreover, her study sheds light on the respective journeys of several other African countries on the very dual citizenship issue, and what Liberia could learn from those experiences. Dr. Pailey scrutinized in her thesis the “markers” of citizenship narrowly defined in Liberia’s current Aliens and Nationality Law; how citizenship is currently conceived and practiced domestically and trans-nationally; and the symbiotic relationship between (dual) citizenship and post-war recovery.According to her, “Liberia, not formally colonized and more recently emerging from 14 years of armed conflict, represents a stark case study in citizenship construction, because of its idiosyncratic (distinctive, individualistic) history of black settler state formation.“Liberian citizenship has historically been a tool of exclusion, one barring women, non-settlers, non-Christians, and non-blacks, and it remains a violently contested space of inquiry with newer forms of citizenship now developing in Liberia and within transnational spaces.”She argued that conflict, migration, globalization and postwar recovery have configured Liberian citizenship across space and time, thereby influencing the introduction and postponement in the passage of a dual citizenship bill proposed in 2008. Her argument continued that the “bill is used as a point of entry to evaluate Liberia’s long-standing struggle to construct a unique brand of citizenship that is totalizing, tactical and timeless.“The rationale behind my research and contribution to this cardinal proposition is for us to practically fill in the empirical gaps, make informed policies, influence public discourse and begin wider discussions about what Liberian citizenship is and why should people of non Negro descent become citizens of Liberia.”She categorized Liberians into three main classes, namely: Homeland Liberians or citizens who are born in Liberia, reside in Liberia and have all their activities in the country; Permanent returnees or Liberian citizens who live in other countries that return to Liberia and settle; and Circular Returnees or Liberian citizens who are in and out of Liberia frequently due to transnational or global opportunities.She called on her fellow Liberians to stop the multilayered, gendered, aged, racial and ethnicized politics of citizenship.“This leads to the conflict-related expression that, for example, ‘Mandingoes are foreigners or strangers in Liberia’. Let us remember that Liberia is a signatory to many international conventions on global human rights, and that Liberians are citizens in other parts of the world,” she added.“Citizenship definition goes beyond legality. Being a Liberian rationally means having Liberia at heart by making meaningful contributions to its development by the use of one’s talents, time and energy.”Liberians all across the nation will be going to the polls in a referendum expected to take place before the presidential and legislative elections in 2017 to decide a number of critical issues, which include the reduction of presidential and legislative tenures, state religion, among others.Meanwhile, Dr. Pailey intends to publish her study on the matter to inform the Liberian decision on the topic, as well as to contribute to the global discussion on the matter. In attendance to hear the presentation were people from various vocations and persuasions, intelligently engaging the Dr. Pailey with many poignant and thought-provoking questions. The final question, which aptly concluded the question-and-answer session, was asked by the moderator, Norris Tweah, vice president for public affairs at the University of Liberia: “Is dual citizenship in Liberia an eventuality and, if so or if not, why?” “Given the global trends,” Dr. Pailey responded, “I think it is an eventuality in Liberia, but I will say as a caveat that perhaps… this particular moment may not be the right time. If you ask a typical Liberian what are [their] priorities, dual citizenship is not going to be at the top of their list of priorities. There are other bread and butter issues around making sure they have a living wage; that they are able to support their families; that the people they vote into power represent them adequately. They are not necessarily paying attention to what would-be dual citizens could achieve. They respect and appreciate the remittances, but are also concerned about people coming back and disenfranchising them. Whether those concerns are valid or not, they are concerns that I think should be appreciated and they should be reconciled.” She also said that there is a growing trend of dual citizenship being embraced across the African continent: one-third of African countries, she found, have varying forms of dual citizenship, some more restrictive than others. “And Liberia will follow that trajectory,” she said. “But at the moment, given the interviews that I have done and the push-back… I am not convinced that it is a priority now or that it will be passed now.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Judge Paye Gives Light Sentence to 6 JFK Robbers

first_imgThe brains behind the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital syndicate who made away with over L$16 million and US$126,000, were yesterday sentenced by Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice to perform community service for the period of one month.Defendant Rebeah Arnaus was among five other co-defendants who Judge Emery Paye declared guilty before sentencing him for ‘community service’ as opposed to the other co-defendants who the judge sentenced to months and years of imprisonment.For Arnaus and the other co-defendants including Patrick Konuwa, former JFK account officers, Judge Paye adjudged them guilty of the crime of criminal facilitation and sentenced them to perform ‘community service’ for the period of one month. They will serve the service under the supervision of the court Sheriff.The judge did not explain the kind of ‘community service’ Arnaus would do relative to the crime he committed. Instead of turning him over to the Correction Officer of the Ministry of Justice to monitor Arnaus’ community service, the judge authorized the Sheriff to monitor his community service without giving any explanation about his decision.Although, Arnaus and his co-defendants were indicted for multiple crimes that ranged from economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation, Arnaus was the only defendant the judge convicted of criminal facilitation.For Patrick Konuwa, Judge Paye said he was guilty of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation. He was thereafter sentenced to three years in prison at the Monrovia Central Prison.Judge Paye also ordered that Konuwa be held liable to restitute in a year’s time the aggregate amount of US$13,323.91 and L$15,807,906.4 to the hospital administration.The Judge, however, suspended Konuwa’s prison sentence for the period of one year to allow him look for the money; and upon his failure to do so, he would be imprisoned in keeping with the law. No one signed for defendant Konuwa. As for defendant Fahn F. Borbor, Paye found him guilty of the crime of theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation.For that, he was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to restitute the amount of US$55,049.28 and L$1,045,000 in one year.He subsequently suspended the imprisonment to afford the defendant time to restitute the money.For defendant Thomas O. Mezzeh, Judge Paye found him guilty of theft of property and sentenced him to six months imprisonment.“Mezzeh is ordered to restitute the amount of US$8,525 and is to pay back the money within six months,” Judge Paye declared.After he announced defendant Mezzeh guilty, Judge Paye also suspended the defendant from going to jail.For defendants Benjamin W. Dargbeh and Thomas G. Telewoyan, Judge Paye found them guilty of theft of property.He sentenced Dargbeh to one year imprisonment and ordered him to restitute the amount of US$19,218.50 in eight months, while Telewoyan was sentenced to four months in prison until he can restitute the amount of US$3,054.He thereafter suspended their prison sentences pending the payment of the money in a ‘specific period.’Immediately after Judge Paye completed his judgments and subsequently sentenced the defendants, prosecution appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.Before he announced the defendants’ sentences, Judge Paye explained how one of the defendants installed Team Viewer software that provide opportunity for Patrick Konuwa to obtain the password for Quick Book, a financial program used by the hospital to conduct its monetary transactions, to withdraw the funds from the JFK accounts at various banking institutions, including First International Bank (FIB), now GN Bank. Judge Paye said Arnaus installed the Team Viewer on the hospital’s former comptroller’s – Mrs. Serina Gbaba – laptop. “The court held that prosecution established and proved the indictment that Team Viewer can be used to access the quick book program and password to the hospital’s accounts,” Judge Paye explained.He said initially Arnaus denied that it was impossible to use Team Viewer to access the Quick Book program.“But witness Wynston Poure, an IT Electronic Engineer, testified that once you gain access by means of Team Viewer to Quick Book with an alert from the user, there are lots of activities that one can do,” Judge Paye quoted the prosecution expert witness statement.“By that testimony, the court believed that Team Viewer can be used to access Quick Book and carryout transaction in said program once the person seeking to access Quick Book by way of obtaining the permission of the user of Team Viewer,” the criminal court judge stated.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Heat hampers firefighting efforts

first_imgFirefighters continued to battle a stubborn blaze on Monday in parched Los Angeles County as thousands of San Fernando Valley residents suffered through the seventh scorching day of triple-digit temperatures, some without air conditioning. The North Fire, 10 miles east of Santa Clarita, had been 20 percent contained at 350 acres by midday before wind patterns changed, causing the blaze to flare up and expand to 650 acres by evening, county fire officials said. At least two dozen homes and ranches were on evacuation alert as the fire edged toward Soledad Canyon Road, but no mandatory evacuations were under way as firefighters gained control, nor were there any injuries or structures damaged, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Ron Haralson. Meanwhile, the area continued to bake under sweltering heat. Woodland Hills hit 111 degrees and Chatsworth followed closely with 110 degrees. Van Nuys and Northridge both tied for 108, and Burbank marked 106 degrees. None were records, however. But there is some good news beginning today as temperatures start dipping into double digits in some places. “We’re finally everyone’s best friend,” said meteorologist Jamie Meier of the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Woodland Hills will reach a “cooler” 102 degrees, while Burbank should see 96 degrees. Both areas are about six degrees hotter than normal. Any break in the heat wave would be welcome to firefighters who, in addition to the North blaze, continued to contain flames that started 40 miles away on Sunday. The Fremont Fire near Elizabeth Lake – about 20 miles west of Lancaster – had spread to 200 acres, but was 50 percent contained by midday, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Ron Haralson. Hand crews tackling those blazes hoped for stable wind conditions, but thunder clouds created some instability over the canyons. There were no reports of injuries, though some working the blazes were being treated for heat exhaustion, Haralson said. Meanwhile, residents staying home in Los Angeles County dealt with outages as power grids maxed out. In the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, 20,000 Southern California Edison customers lost power. susan.abram@dailynews.com (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more