Sierra Leone will be granting citizenship to foreigners with ancestral links to the country
Sierra Leone government has partnered with genealogy service AfricanAncestry, to help those keen on relocating to the West African nation. They are offering citizenship to people who find out they have ancestral links with the country.
African Ancestry is the world leader in tracing maternal and paternal lineages of African descent having helped more than 750,000 people re-connect with the roots of their family tree.
Dr. Gina Paige, the co-founder of the facility, told the BBC’s Newsday program that the service does not rely on percentages.
The lineage of people who register is traced using a part of the DNA that is passed on by mothers through their entire ancestry called Mitochondrial DNA.
The service has a database of African Mitochondrial DNA codes that it uses to find an exact match hence determining one’s maternal linage.
“We just compare the part of your DNA that does not change over the years with the codes of people across the continent to find matches,” Dr. Paige says.
Sierra Leone’s government is keen on investing in and attracting human capital to help grow the economy.
Those who are interested in relocating to the country are welcome to do so after obtaining citizenship. The government hopes this development will encourage more investments from people with African heritage.
Passing on Nationality in Sierra Leone has been a topic of debate over decades. Until recently, women were not allowed to pass on their nationality to their children, a right exclusively provided for only men.
Sierra Leone to grant citizenship to foreigners with ancestral links to the country
For a time, any foreigner born of a Sierra Leonean mother and a foreign father cannot or would be extremely difficult to claim the African’s country nationality.
The contract was signed in the presence of Sierra Leone’s President His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, who underscored his commitment to the partnership.
“We welcome you to acquire land, live in our communities, invest, build capacity and take advantage of business opportunities,” said President Bio during the citizenship conferment ceremony.
The reforms will go a long way to advance Sierra Leone’s efforts at post-war reconstruction, national development, and peace consolidation. It is also positive in aligning the country with international laws relating to eradicating statelessness, gender, and racial discrimination.
Originally, It has already been noted that individuals could acquire Sierra Leone citizenship based on certain conditionalities: including having ‘negro African’ ancestry, continuous residency period for specific ethnic groups, ability to speak a local language, and a minimum age for naturalization if born outside Sierra Leone and one of the parents is a naturalized Sierra Leone or ‘born on or after the date on which the father or mother became a citizen.
This suggests that ius sanguinis or having ancestral, matrimonial, and patrilineal links, ius soli or birthright or being born in the national territory, and naturalization continues to be paths to Sierra Leone citizenship.
It is worth highlighting that non-negro Africans can only naturalize and can never be citizens from birth as is the case with other countries in the sub-region; except Liberia where only ‘negroes’ are allowed to be citizens.
The naturalization path in Sierra Leone could be an expensive project for many aspiring citizens of Negro African ancestry in a country rife with poverty and destitution. (Amadu Wurie Khan, Report on Citizenship Law: Sierra Leone.)
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