Parliamentary committee to examine dual citizenship

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

A Joint Select Committee of Parliament will be formed to examine the issue of dual citizenship. The move was agreed to after a recommendation made by Prime Minister Bruce Golding as he contributed to a motion brought by opposition MP Reverend Ronald Thwaites.

Reverend Thwaites’ motion in the House of Representatives, which was approved, called for every member of the House to declare their citizenship, or permanent residency in any country other than Jamaica and that the House debate under what, if any circumstance, citizens with dual nationality should be excluded from Parliament.

In the debate sparked by the motion, there was almost unanimous agreement that because an individual has sought citizenship in another country outside the Commonwealth, it did not mean that they were unpatriotic to Jamaica and therefore should not sit in Parliament.

In addition, several members of the House agreed that in today’s globalized world where Jamaicans are residents of many countries, the provisions of the Constitution that speak to dual citizenship matters is outdated.

Minister of Education and Leader of Government Business in the Lower House, Andrew Holness, also informed that the government has already decided on its three members who would be a part of the committee.

“The Leader of Opposition Business, I am sure, will provide (the names) and we will formalize the process at the next sitting,” he said.

Existing provisions in the Constitution allow citizens of Commonwealth countries to be elected or appointed to Parliament as long as they have been ordinarily resident in Jamaica for the preceding 12 months. However, a Jamaican who has voluntarily acquired citizenship in a non Commonwealth country, such as the U.S., is exempt from sitting in Parliament.

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