Can the Elections and Boundaries Department take away nationality? Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 24 May 2018 00:00

After reading a release from the organization known as Belizean Citizens Abroad; the release ascribes some extraordinary powers to the Chief Elections Officer. According to the release, the Chief Elections Officer should turn away persons who have Belizean Nationality Documents, if they were born in Guatemala. According to the release, she must do so because it is illegal for Guatemalans to be granted Belizean Citizenship. With regard to registration of persons including persons born in Guatemala tendering Belizean Nationality Documents, when applying to be registered as a voter, I must say that the position taken by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), is indeed the proper position. It is not for the CEO or the Elections and Boundaries to decide who qualifies for Belizean Nationality, that function is for the Immigration Department. Once that document is issued by the Immigration Department based on whatever law is in place at the time, then unless that Nationality is withdrawn or recalled, the document is legal and binding. As regards to the constitutionality of Guatemalans who have acquired Belizean Nationality, that is a matter for the courts to decide.

Before anyone gets me wrong, let me categorically state, that I am not saying, that having persons born in Guatemala being granted citizenship and voting in our elections is a good thing. I too would like to see such persons, NOT being able to acquire citizenship and vote in our elections, unless those persons qualify under section 24 and 25 of our Constitution. To put an end to it we should start by removing the ambiguity from both our ordinary law and the section of the constitution which permits it to happen. Parliament has to decide whether it will make the necessary changes to our laws, based on whatever position it wants to adopt at that time. Regarding those Guatemalans, who already acquired their Belizean Citizenship, that ship may have already sailed on us. Those persons acquired their citizenship, because the law permitted it back then. For us to now change the law and give it a retroactive effect, we would be going against a principle of natural justice. How would we take away their citizenship which they legally acquired, by satisfying all the requirements, that we set out in our laws ?

Robert Young; Former Member; Elections & Boundaries Commission 1994-1999