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July 01, 2009

ABA ROLI Assesses Liberia’s Aliens and Nationality Law

July 2009 

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Research and Assessments Office recently issued the Analysis of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Republic of Liberia, undertaken at the request of the Liberian Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. In a June 25 letter, Commissioner C. Clarence Massaquoi and Deputy Commissioner Abla Gadegbeku-Williams extended their “sincere thanks and appreciation” to ABA ROLI for the “splendid compilation” of the analysis. They also thanked ABA ROLI’s country director in Liberia, Anthony Valcke, who spearheaded the effort.

Liberia’s immigration and nationality laws, which were modeled on the 1952 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, have not been updated since 1974. Since that time, both Liberia’s political situation and international laws affecting the rights of migrants and foreign nationals have changed drastically. ABA ROLI’s analysis assessed the law, comparing it to regional and international norms and best practices. The analysis also includes a brief overview of pertinent standards and general policy considerations, highlights areas of concern and suggests reforms. It examines discrete sections of the law, drawing on commentary provided by a panel of experts on immigration, public international law and Liberia.

The analysis recommends substantial reforms to the law, including full incorporation of Liberia’s international legal obligations in the domestic law,  addressing the needs of trafficked and smuggled persons and ensuring the protection of immigrant children. Other recommendations include developing a regulatory framework for the implementation of immigration laws, establishing court oversight of immigration decisions, eliminating the use of outdated terminology, permitting dual citizenship and matrilineal passage of citizenship and ensuring the rights of residents of non-African descent.

The analysis was undertaken to assist the government in redrafting and modernizing Liberia’s immigration and nationality laws. ABA ROLI will participate in meetings of the Immigration Law Reform Committee of the Liberian Ministry of Justice to continue its support of this effort.

Click here to read the Analysis of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Republic of Liberia.

To learn more about our work in Liberia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <[email protected]>.