The National, Monday July 8th, 2013
THE National Executive Council has agreed to pursue amendments to the Constitution to allow dual citizenship and to remove doubts regarding the legality of regional asylum seeker processing arrangements.
“As Papua New Guinea has matured and its position as a nation has undergone change, its needs and circumstances have changed,” Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato said in a statement last Thursday.
Pato said provisions in the Constitution stated PNG nationals may hold dual citizenship until the age of 19.
“At that point in time, a dual PNG national must make a decision either to renounce their other citizenship or their PNG citizenship,” he said.
“The fact is that many Papua New Guineans have been asking for dual citizenship.
“In this global society, more and more Papua New Guineans are travelling and living abroad in many parts of the world.
“If they marry a foreigner and have children, those children are forced to make a difficult choice at the age of 19.
“Similarly, some Papua New Guineans become eligible to obtain another country’s citizenship and would like to enjoy the benefits it would provide.
“At present, both classes of people would lose their PNG citizenship, despite their wish to keep both.”
He said under the proposed amendments, dual citizens would not be permitted to vote, stand for public office, acquire freehold land or obtain access to sensitive documents under freedom of information.
“The countries in which dual citizenship is permitted would be prescribed by their regulation.
“I am pleased that NEC has endorsed a proposed amendment to Section 42 of the Constitution to remove any doubts that may exist regarding PNG’s ability to work with our neighbours to manage the regional issue of asylum seekers,” he said.
“The issues facing bordering countries are not just for these countries, they are for PNG as well.”
The proposed amendment would recognise that, notwithstanding the constitutional safeguards around the liberty of the person, foreign nationals may be held at asylum seeker processing facilities in PNG under arrangements between PNG and other countries or international organisations.
“All the proposed amendments will be put to Parliament in this month’s sitting,” Pato said