House begins debate on dual citizenship motion


Debate on a motion urging members of the House of Representatives to declare his or her citizenship or permanent residency in any country other than Jamaica, began in the Lower House on Tuesday November 16.
Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Ronald Thwaites, who moved the motion, noted that as a country “we have undergone the agues of challenges to membership based on allegations of dual citizenship.”
“Tens and millions of dollars have been expended on legal cost, on election campaign, and by-elections. There have been many distractions to the business of this country, which ought to have been dealing with public affairs rather than this dispute,” he argued.
He encouraged every Member of Parliament to publicly pronounce his or her citizenship as they participate in the debate and set the example himself, by declaring that he held no citizenship or permanent residency in any other country than Jamaica.
The Opposition Member of Parliament, in his motion, further urged the Lower House to debate under what, if any circumstance, citizens with dual nationality ought to be excluded from parliamentary membership.
“I am entirely sensitive to the controversial issues that are involved here. I take the point that is made by many that if you are in this chamber or if you are occupying other sensitive posts as defined by the Constitution, that if you have the divided loyalty of a parallel citizenship that you are in fact less than an impartial arbiter over law and regulation, because you have an escape route,” Mr. Thwaites said.
He argued further that: “I believe the changed circumstances of our land warrant a change in our Constitution to remove the absolute prohibition of persons, who are citizens of other countries, not members of the British Commonwealth, from holding office in this house.”

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