Dual citizenship:Barbados Prime Minister enters regional debate; calls for review of laws

Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Prime Minister David Thompson on Thursday added his voice to the raging debate in the region over the issue of dual citizenship, saying he believes the current situation in which persons can be disqualified for leadership on such grounds is flawed.

“This is a matter that I consider worthy for analysis at this crucial juncture in our history,” said Thompson, in making his position known on the issue.

Addressing a large gathering for Errol Barrow Day celebrations in Barbados that included the Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is facing such a challenge at home, Thompson said he was very concerned that “on our present trajectory, if something sensible is not done that soon we may not have a competent cadre of individuals from which to choose our leaders in the Caribbean.

“I find it somewhat flawed that we educate our children, send them abroad for education to gain valuable insights and experiences in other lands and then we tell them that the legal status they would have acquired while residing in those countries prevents them from serving in and helping to build their own countries as legislators.

“It gets even worse. Some existing constitutions also stipulate that even holding citizenship or having a passport from a sister Caribbean island disqualifies you from serving in our own country as a legislator,” he said, adding that the time had come for a review of the provisions “as they will hamper and prevent us from attracting vitally needed talent in the management and administration of these islands at this critical period in our development”.

Skerrit, whose Dominica Labour Party (DLP) scored a resounding victory in the December 18 general elections, faces the possibility of being disqualified on the grounds that he is a holder of French citizenship.

The opposition United Workers Party (UWP), which claimed three of the 21 seats in the Dominica parliament, has taken the matter to court.

While not making specific reference to the Dominica situation, Thompson chose to highlight the life work of Barrow who he said could have qualified for citizenship in quite a few Caribbean countries and elsewhere.

“Could you imagine the void that might have existed in Barbados’ history had he been denied the right to serve in the parliament of Barbados  in 1958 because he was a citizens of another Caribbean country?” he asked.

In the case of Jamaica, where the matter of dual citizenship has been settled by the court the pre scri ption has been to order a by election in cases where the candidate is disqualified.

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40 Comments

  1. wisdom
    August 31, 2010

    sacuay ca ca beth en pachey sort se moon la ca any marchay on the web site

  2. Sianguk
    January 25, 2010

    Sacrifice and Choice.

    These are the things that make us who we are.

    The PM has chosen to run for office and as result he has to make some sacrifices.

    A PM for ANY country MUST NOT be holden to another country.

    So PM Skerritt must now choose, be PM of Dominica or hold on to his citizenship of France.

  3. CARICUM CARIGO
    January 24, 2010

    I have read Mr. Thompson”s concern and those of DNO’s contributors and have come up with this COMPROMISE OR WIN-WIN PHILOSPHY as proposed by the Japanise. This will allow all Dominicans to contribute to continued nation building since it is every ones right to do so in any capacity.

    The catch though, YOU MUST BE BORN IN DOMINICA from at LEAST ONE DOMINICAN PARENT, or from at least ONE DOMINICAN PARENT or PARENTAGE, whether in dominica, or on a foreign soil.

    Clause 1

    a). Any person born and resides soley in the Commonwealth of Dominica can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

    b). Any person who fulfills the requirement as set forth in a), but who holds dual or more citizenships by whatever means so acquired, and for whatever purpose deemed appropriate to the said person can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

    c). Any person born of at least one Dominican parent or parentage whether in Dominica or on foreign soil and who holds citizenship of any amount of countries by whatever means acquired and for whatever purpose deemed appropriate to the said person can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

    d) Any person who fulfills the requirements of both a), b) and c) but who have resided on a foreign soil for any amount of years for what ever purpose deemed appropriate to the said person, can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

    e). Any person who fulfills the requirements of both a), b), c), d), and who have served in a foreign military for what ever time and in what ever capacity, can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

    f). Any person who fulfills the requirements of both a), b), c) and d) but who have been incarerated in her Majesty’s Prison or any other correctional facilities on a foreign soil for what ever crimes and for whatever time and who, when realeased, have demonstrated to society a change in character and a willingness to take the Commonwealth of Dominica forward, can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

    Clause 11

    g). Subject to clause 1, b) c), d), f), any person who faces the polls and wins an election is now a servant of the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica soley.

    h). Subject to Clause 11, g) a servant of the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica
    MUST renounce any allegence to a foregin power for the time he represents and makes his further contribution to nation building.

    i) Subject to Clause 11, g) a servant of the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica will have 90 days to renounce his allegence to a foreigh country. He or she must make his intention in writing to the secretary of the parliment.

    j). Suject to Clause 11, g) no one can take the oath of office to serve the people, if he does not denounce – or give intention in writing to the secretary of parliment- allegence to the said foreign country or countries.

    l). Subject to Clause 11, g) a diplomatic passport will be issued to the said servant of the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica ONLY after completion of said renouncement.

    Cluase 111

    m). All persons qualified in Clause 1 b-e, to run for public office and have so done, but was rejected by the people to be their servant, can return back to their regular place of abode should they want to.

    n). No person should be asked to make a deposit in kind or cash in-order to run for public office.

    o). All persons residing in a foreign country and who qualifies to run for public office by virtue of Clause one will be provided a round trip, open ticket by the treasury of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

    p). The Commonwealth of Dominica is responsible for all person(s) who quilifies to run for public office by virtue of clauses 1 b- e.

    End note
    ” I think the Commonwealth of Dominica isreally a Republic. Correct me if am wrong. My understanding is that PJ took every thing the queen gave him. Therefore we the island can adopt an Exective president and since this may be a contitutional matter, the i (s) have it 18-3

  4. CARICUM CARIGO
    January 24, 2010

    b.Any person who fulfills the requirement as set forth in a, but who holds dual or more citizenships by whatever means so acquired, can run for public office, can be named Prime Minister or Executive President when and or if instituted, and can be a member of parliment.

  5. Lord Blackstone
    January 24, 2010

    In the days of genuine “political economy”, the great goal of politics was the creation of a nation ruled by laws, not by men. Today, the politicians make the laws (hence the popular euphemism “lawmaker”) and only ask or answer questions about these laws under duress.
    Modern laws are not designed to be read or understood. They are designed to be wide open conduits through which ANY action which is deemed necessary to confront ANY situation can be deemed “legal”.

    And this is how the Barbados pm is framing the question. “What is legal”? “Anything we make a law about.” “What is needed to confront any political or economic situation?” “Whatever is legal.” “Who decides that?” “We do!” “On what basis do you decide?” “On the basis of the ‘national interest’.” “Who decides what that is?” “We do!”

  6. jean louis
    January 24, 2010

    These power hungry politicans wil do anything to disrupt progress as long they not in government
    they will do anything to distrupt progress. remember peter carbon live in a foreigen country while representing a constutiency for two terms it went un notice. is it written in the constution?
    i want someone to send me some insite on that as well as dual citizenship
    and meanwhile i would like to do some research and ill get back to the issue
    Dominica needs some shaking up our politicans tends to disrupt groth in this country
    we need you guys to get the people of dominica work done instead of bickering over small issues
    we knows better than and we need better than what youall has to offer make no joke about it
    we know better so we expect to get better we live outside the country and knows all what goes on
    we know the facts so why try to fool the public we know you can do better and we expect so it over time that we the people of this country should expect to so much more from you all we had 15 years of zero groth we accomplished zero in 15 years under eugeuna what can we withstand again when ever i go home the youth ill meet with their questions would be about wanting to migrate from the country its not a bad idea but what will the country be like in another ten years the youths are suffering lack of jobs an effort is to be made to prepare for the youth than to be bicckering over dual citizen ship no progress is been made in an attemp to help the youth of this country than fighting for power or louxuary these are the people we have in government many of them steal millions and exile themselfs and these types of hudlums been doing since the 1940 and none havnt went to prison since which is the road are heading to

  7. jean louis
    January 24, 2010

    As a Dominican i has a problem with those dominican who thinks that if you has dual citizen is difficult for them sallow am sorry, but am a dominican and i intend to return home to build or what it maybe to my country be it politics am a dominican you live abroad they gave you a passport and it still says place of birth dominica you commit a crime they will take it send you to your home land so what they gona bann you from taking part in building your country?
    one of the problems i notice people has this attuide and differences especialy when you come from over seas or been in a foreign country they seems to have a negative principle towards you
    what i find we need to do is to put away all these dumb negative political misfortunes and lets see where we can take this country to a next level. Dominica has been faced with to many political strifes
    thats one of the reasons why tis citizens are flocking to other countries for econnmoc reasons its time for our leaders to stop bickering over mina issues and start have the country moving these people thinks that the country is ahead of time but little do they know its in the back seat
    i hope at least one of them will stop and think.

  8. January 24, 2010

    What about all the leaders we had before Statehood , were they born Dominicans?

  9. January 24, 2010

    Skeritt is Dominican and will aways be a Dominican no matter WHAT!!!!!

  10. SHUFFLE
    January 23, 2010

    also remember on the passport will still be writen born in dominica and if u do something they will quickly take their passport from u and send u back da. so in the end have u truley become citizen? or a u just borrowed a passport temporarely?

  11. SHUFFLE
    January 23, 2010

    i read in amazment at the comments of a bunch of persone who are just blowing hot air, a bunch of empty barrels. this law is one that needs changing.dual citizenship my foot . a man should have a right to sever a country that he loves.as long as that person is not some criminal and one that is seeking to rob the country. all those of u talking about giving up citizenship u would not have done diffrently. its not about party or politics .its about love of people and country.as one commentor stated we as dominicans go out of state to work with the intention to return to da one day and make a contribution to our nation, but because of the system we are obliged at times to take up citizenship so that we can get around, because we want to make life better for our families mopst times they depend on us. theres not a houshold in da who have family members out side who in one way or another does not benifit from the holders of dual citizenship. i personaly have been out of da for the past 20yrs and for the sake of my children have no chose but to accept citizenship. but do i love my country less ? no my every intention have been to return to da and serve my country in a few yrs time , rather let me say be on site to sever for as the commentor stated i have been doing so by the way of the barrel and western union economy. its time to shelf that law and lets work in the intrest of da. stop playing party politricks and lets sever da with love

  12. dominican
    January 23, 2010

    laws are laws……if you become a citizen of another country then that country takes responsibility over you as a citizen…..even if you commit a crime in that country then they can come get you in dominica even if you are of dominican born….so i think that if an individual have renounced your rights as a dominican citizen by becoming a citizen of another country then that individual should not be allowed to be leader…..you all seem to take becoming a citizen to be somewhat of a joke….hmmmm

  13. January 23, 2010

    Seems Govt is above the law these days, and people agree with this BS, where is our society going?
    Talk about legal plunder, twisting the law to suit your needs, yeesh.

  14. GWATANCE
    January 23, 2010

    Hello LOOKING

    Some people do not seem to understand the future position of Dominica and its people. They do not want to take this Chinese situation as a major concern. There will be a time soon when the Dominica/Chinese citizen will be eligible to vote, then as they are systematic/diciplined in all things they undertake, it will not surprise me if plans are beginning to be in place for what you have indicated.
    The Asian global mentality, put one in an area, and this one becomes multiples like a virus and create a DOMINANT. A fact

  15. deecee
    January 23, 2010

    Mr gee – I am not getting involved in personal attacks as I think this DNO opportunity is too important for that kind of thing. Its all there on Wikipedia.com for all to read and since Wikipedia’s contributors are just ordinary people I verified this with a Haitian lawyer.. Baby Doc entered France at the request of the US government and not as an illegal alien. He was flown there by the Americans. Later an effort by a private citizen to get him deported as an illegal immigrant failed in the court. He was never granted asylum so he can only have stayed openly in France for now 14 years and counting if he has some legal standing and is protected by the French government from justice in Haiti. However I would have preferred to have read your sensible opinion on the substantive matter of dual citizenship which you bypassed but which concerns us more.

  16. wow
    January 23, 2010

    I think if someone is born in this country regardless if they become a dual citizen they should have a chance to become a PM, because this country is their land of birth, and that is what should be important, just like in the US you can only run for President if you were born there.

    To the people who are talking about minister running when things get tight, they can do so even if they dont have dual citizenship, these ministers have contacts every where and dual or no dual they can do as they please with thier diplomatic passport people.

  17. Anonymous
    January 23, 2010

    my pm is a born dominican so i beg these domies to back off. i am not in favor of anyone who became a citizen of da through naturalization becoming pm though i support that person becoming a member of pal. to be pm you should be a born dominican with one of your parent being a born dominican. in other words if neither of your parents are born dominican and you were born in da then you should not be qualified to be pm. one of your parent have to be born dominican. on the dual citizenship issue, most dominicans who migrate to foreign countries do so to better their lives with the intentions of comming back home to contribute to the growth of their beloved country. some of them die trying to make it back home to contribute and those who never made it back always contributed through the barrel economy. while trying to better our lives for the betterment of our beloved da, we sometimes run into hurdles especially if you are ambicious. so to get around these hurdles we do the best thing and that is naturalize so that we can take advantage of every thing available to our advancement so that we can return to da one day and make a difference. so i will be damn if someone would look at me and tell me that i cant be pm in the country of my birth.

  18. ugly
    January 23, 2010

    This is an extremely strong case,and the outcome will be intriguing..Guess the search is already on for the next PM. Something is Happening!!!!

  19. huh?
    January 23, 2010

    let’s just play toss up

  20. gee
    January 23, 2010

    Dee Cee. Where did you get your information from?. You people talk so much nonsense it’s not funny. The Duvaliers were never officially granted asylum in France. And if they held french passports i don’t think reagan would have begged france to accept them .Duvalier were illegal immigrants in france when they arrived. Get your facts before u open ur mouth. Babyduc never had a french passport

  21. Mahaut People
    January 22, 2010

    What would have happened if Earl Williams former parl . rep from bawie had become pm ? Would disgruntled Ron have taken the matter to court? TALK TO US RON

  22. Looking
    January 22, 2010

    Boy oh boy. We may have a Chinese Prime Minister in DA later down the road. Don’t forget many of them have Dominican citizenship. These leaders better be very careful when they are “reviewing the laws” concerning Dual citizenship.

  23. INFORMANT
    January 22, 2010

    Most of you people have it wrong. Even if the PM is being challenged in court. The judge have to look at the situation for what it is. PM holds two passport but he never ever pledge allegence to France. He gain french nationality from birth. He is French no matter how you twist it. He is born of a French Parent. He is not a naturalized citizen of France.

    You people need to get the facts straight. Shame on Ron and the gang to even take that to court. Sore losers and they still will not be PM in DA.

    Shame on u guys Shame Shame Shame

  24. Dominican Abroad
    January 22, 2010

    Don’t forget, Earl Williams, …could have been teh prime minister of Dominica, but the eligibility of Roosevelt Skerrit, a born Dominican is being challenged by the party of which Earl was leader. Isn’t this ironic?

  25. GWATANCE
    January 22, 2010

    My concern is the future reaction of the Host Countries to the presentation of any continuous debate
    on the necessity for dual citizenship. Those of us with dual citizenship are fortunate, therefore, I can see we are trying to open the “hornets’ nest” so to speak. If my memory is right, remember he siyuation in Guyana, and T/Tobago

  26. Anonymous
    January 22, 2010

    This to me speaks to allegiance to a country. It’s like getting the American passport and having to denounce the one you have. I don’t see anything wrong in that. And further it’s allegiance to another country by one’s own choosing …… in other words you can’t serve God and the devil at the same time

  27. max
    January 22, 2010

    Mr.thompson is playing pure politics knowing that the case against Skerrit is very strong. Are you goingto repect the law or is the law exclusive for some and not for others? Thompson should know better than that. The cases in Jamaicia have set a precedent and Skerrit and Thompson know that.

  28. deecee
    January 22, 2010

    Dual citizenship makes a mockery of the oath of allegiance members of the House must take to be duly sworn in. I do not think that you can be a citizen of any other country and run for elections in Dominica as an adult because when you become an adult you have the option to reject and you chose to hide behind your mother or father’s action when you were underage.

    You want to serve the people then make the sacrifice. All I am hearing is that people want to eat their cake and have it. In other words hold on to the bridge just in case things go bad in the political scene or there is need for a quick overnight exit. A leader must be accountable to the people and if involved in wrongdoing must not have another citizenship so that a foreign embassy can protect him or her from the court justice of the people as is the case with Baby Doc of Haiti. You want to be a leader of a nation? Then in the words of Joshua, “Choose you this day who you shall serve.” Drop the other one or two or three other citizenships of other lands even perhaps Somalia or Iran as the case may be. Sacrifice and serve one love, one people, one nation. this is not only about a Dominican holding another passport, but of say a Russian with alot of money capable of buying an election who acquires a Dominica passport and wants to run for office. And by the way its not just a simple matter of calling a bye election, the offender can be jailed, fined and barred from elections for life if knowingly he or she violated the election law. This is serious.

  29. January 22, 2010

    Citizenship is citizenship. Whether by allegiance or birth, it is citizenship and one does not benefit any less from a country because his mother registered him or an oath was taken upon reaching the age of majority. The benefits are the same.

    My take is this: You want to hold public office and run the country, you cannot not have the best of two worlds. You cannot be married to a woman and want to have 15 chicks on the side so when you bored with your wife you can go next door. Polititians are there to be of service to people who put them at probably the highest level of authority. So why should they be compromised with another country?

    My law would be: That anyone who holds a second citizenship by birth, investment, marriage parentage or whatever else there is, should be willing to renounce or not go for public office.

    Simple. Story closed. Because many of these politicians have dual citizenship and argue when its convenient. They fuss over whose mother gave it to them etc. and try to bring down one man when at the end of the day, they themselves remain with two citizenships and benefit fully from two countries: they can run when they please, invest and hold bank accounts, get free education for their children etc. while still controlling tings in Dca.

    I am Dominican and Dominican only. I have no other passport or sovreign rights of any country. When ALL these politicians mess up, at the end, I with my one passport am the one who suffers, takes the grind, and the leader(S) are having a ball of a time and can run without going back door or being illegal immigrants, or forsaying mayay to get status overseas.

    So its absolute Nonsense what ALL these poltitians are doing. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. No second citizenship: Not for Ron, Edo, Skerritt and all the others. Full Stop.

  30. Prophet2
    January 22, 2010

    … I think he’s a geek of the first order, he smiles like one and acts like one, I’m sorry I just can’t help it.

  31. Brenton Hilaire
    January 22, 2010

    I disagree because the law states that if it was obtained from childhood then that person is exempt. So that child who goes out to gain knowledge and come back home is exempted. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Furthermore, as a sign of true commitment to your country then the individual should publicly forfeit their 2nd citizen ship in order to attempt becoming a minister. In some countries they ask you to forfeit your Dominican passport before you become a citizen. Why can’t we have that pride for our country in the caribbean?

    Just my opinion.

  32. blackheart
    January 22, 2010

    i understand the concern of the prime minister , and also what u are saying 2cents. but my question is , is it really dual citizenship related to the Caribbean , or just dual citizenship en general, because if it is so , indeed that can cause some problems. for example if it purely caribbean base then no problem there , but if its on a international scale , then careful cause we might take for granted that when the
    BEST qualified person comes from one of the more developed countries , that may limit the possibility of a regional person filling the position, and that in the long run will affect ,all the Caribbean countries. en fin i am not saying its not a legitimate concern, we just have to be very careful that we don’t get sold out, like the way Barbados was , or is .

    blackheart

  33. lookscene
    January 22, 2010

    2cents i agree fully

  34. wonderfull
    January 22, 2010

    OH I FORGOT ONE VERY IMPORTANT POINT :

    A Dominican born who acquires french nationality cannot and will never be able to hold high office iin FRANCE. Where is the reciprocity in opportunities offered to holdes of the same nationalities. A dominican with french citizenship will always be a Dominican in France who just happens to be in good standing vis-a-vis the immigration laws…

  35. wonderfull
    January 22, 2010

    To “Just giving my 2cents” In reading your submission my mind was juggled somewhat to seek to highlight a few stands taken by the Almighty USA for example : If you can recall during John Mccain’s quest to become the nominee of the Republican Party in 2000, that they question surrounding his ability to serve as president of the USA was not if he was a citizen of the USA but rather if he was born in the USA!!!!!, this was in my mind ine of the issues that cost him the nomination at the time.
    An other prime example is that of Arnold Schwarzerneeger, who is governor of the stae of California. Thoug he is governor and undoubtedly makes a contribution to the development of the USA he cannot at any time during this life time run for President of the United Staes of America. He arnold is even more american now than he was ever Austrian but there are certain guidelines that are put in place to safeguard society and make the higest office of the land an office which most be held in high esteem.
    We do not have to change our constitution to fit the person who wants to hold this office. the people seeking to hold this office must conform themselves to the rules that were established by our founders.
    …………….

  36. January 22, 2010

    Thank God this BS cannot happen in America, My God man they give u negroes independence and immediately u all making a mess of things. Reason why it is run to have dual citizenship is a matter of your allegiance to the nation.
    …………
    Owen Arthur was a better leader than u can ever be.

  37. Lester
    January 22, 2010

    .. and his party are …. …. and the many others who hold citizenship from other countries names should be removed from our history books and that the many things that they had done for the country while in public office should be disregarded? …

    A man born in Dominica to a french citizen, automatically attains french citizenship, which is very much legal. (he also qualifies for American citizenship you know). What is so wrong about that as compared to Rhone who is a naturalized US citizen?

    You folks are really ..

    Leave di man alone.

  38. chiensal
    January 22, 2010

    Well I have two things to ask on this:

    1. If there is a dispute between Canada and Dominica which side will you be on if you are the P.M?
    If a decision is to be made and you are the P.M which country will get the short end of the stick?
    2. If your daughter wants to have a political career in Dominica and it is so important to her she can
    always renounce her Canadian citizenship.

    The people that made these laws knew what they were doing because cases similar to number 1 above happened in the past.

  39. @just giving my two cents
    January 22, 2010

    I think the law should be reviewed….but you also have to be aware of the fact that even in the united states…..if your were not BORN there you cannot run for the office of president while you could run for mayor….i.e. the arnold case…..

    So in truth and in fact…no your daughter should not be able to run for office in dominica cause she wasnt not BORN here…i strongly believe in that fact
    But for the area of someone being born in dominica…but obtaining citizenship otherwise…I dont think they should be prevented from running for office in DA at all!!!

  40. Just giving my 2 cents
    January 22, 2010

    This is a legitimate concern.. as a dominican living abroad and studying law – yes i am dominican, but so to am i Canadian. Will they tell me if i return home to serve my country that the opportunities denied me in Dominica and provided to me by Canada are reasons enough to disqualify me from being a member of government? The purpose of going to study out of dominica is not always a want, it’s a need which Doominica cannot fulfill … each individual should be guaranteed education and since Dominica cannot provide the opportunity for the type of education being offered elsewhere, then Domincans do not have any choice but to find these opportunities. When these opportunities present themselves, sometimes the best ways to secure those opportunities is through citizenship. Is Dominica saying that my Canadian daughter cannot make a life in Politics in Dominica if she so chooses?

    My Daughter and I are DominicanA like all other Dominicans be it through naturalization or birth. A case can be made that this is discrimination … if one is Dominican… all Dominican rights MUST apply … there should be no ifs ands or buts. One cannot take away the Dominican status simply because another has equal rights and opportunites in another land.

    Once Dominican, ALWAYS Dominican… that can never change

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