J. K K Peah
Liberia-America Friendship Organization (LIAFO), an institution fostering U S-Liberia relations and historical friendly ties, through its President, J K K Peah says the exclusion of Liberians living in the Diaspora from voting in their country’s elections can only be described as “taxation without representation” and it is unconstitutional, declaring that as his personal project in the observance of LIAFO’s 14th year of founding in the United States, his organization will take Liberia’s 1972 immigration to the Supreme, calling for its nullification and that it be declared unconstitutional because it violates articles 2, 3, 4, 28 and 79 (c) of the constitution.
The LIAFO President also said it is unfair and subjecting of the rights of Liberians living abroad to exclude them from participating in their utmost civil responsibility and inalienable right to take part in the democratic process of their country and exercise their franchise by absentee voting as guaranteed in article 79 (c) of the Liberian constitution which reads;
“Every Liberian citizen shall have the right to be registered in a constituency, and to vote in public elections only in the constituency where registered, either in person or by absentee ballot; provided that such citizen shall have the right to change his voting constituency as prescribed by the Legislature“.
Mr. Peah said it is an encroachment of the fundamental rights of Liberians living in the Diaspora who contribute 23% of the country’s GDP (UNDP Report), and do not even benefit from the economy they are key pillars to from participating in the democratic process of the country.
The LIAFO President emphasized that Liberia’s 1972 immigration law modeled after the United States’ 1952 immigration law has since been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S Supreme Court but despite the nullification, Liberia still has its immigration law on the books. Mr. Peah said the Liberian immigration law tramples on the fundamental rights of Liberians in the Diaspora and treats them as second class citizens violating articles 2, 3, 4 , 28 and 79 (c) of the country’s constitution.
The 1972 immigration law is in broad contravention of the constitution, providing the justification to deny Diaspora Liberians the right to exercise their fundamental rights and the dual citizenship law enacted by the Liberian Legislature violates the country’s constitution must be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Mr.. Peah called on Liberians living in the Diaspora to rally around his organization’s effort as they pursue the nullification of the Liberian 1972 immigration law which is the foundation for denying Liberians the right participate in the democratic process of their country and comes 2017 they can vote by absentee ballot in the respective Diaspora communities.