KINGSTON, Jamaica June 20, 2019 - If the Member of parliament for Kingston Central, the Reverend Ronald Thwaites has his way, persons holding dual citizenship in countries like the United States could be elected to the Jamaican Parliament, in much the same way as Commonwealth citizens can.
It is in light of this that the Peoples National Party's standard bearer for Central Kingston wants to have a section of the Jamaican constitution which deals with dual citizenship repealed.
During Tuesday's sitting of the House of Representatives, Mr. Thwaites gave notice that he will be moving a motion at the next sitting to have that section of the constitution repealed.
Section 40 subsection 2 (a) of the Jamaican constitution allows citizens of Commonwealth countries to be elected or appointed to Parliament as long as they have been ordinarily resident in Jamaica for the preceding 12 months.
However, a Jamaican, who has voluntarily acquired citizenship in a non Commonwealth country, such as the US, is exempt from sitting in Parliament.
Speaking on Radio Jamaica, Thwaites says he believes that "Because you hold, for example, United States citizenship, does not mean that you are not loyal to Jamaica." Therefore, "we can devise other means of testing a person's commitment, such as would encourage their participation in Parliament."
"It is a travesty, that If I live in Canada, across the border, I'm entitled to be in the Jamaican parliament being a commonwealth citizen but if I live over the border in a country where large numbers of Jamaicans loyal to their country reside, i'm excluded unless I give up my citizenship.
"And I think it is appropriate to seek this change in the constitution when ther diaspora is meeting in Jamaica, and when we are celebrating the life of Edward Seaga, who was born in trhe United States and had to renounce his US citizenship in order to become a parliamentarian," Thwaites lamented.
Following the 2007 general election the legitimacy of several Jamaica Labour Party Members of Parliament were challenged in the courts on the grounds that they were citizens of non-Commonwealth states.
The issue of Parliamentarians holding dual citizenship was placed before a Joint Select Committee of the House in 2011, following a motion brought by Mr. Thwaites.
As recent as October 2017, the issue of dual citizenship was again a topic of discussion after it was revealed that Dr. Shane Alexis, the then PNP candidate in the South East St. Mary by-election, who has since acquired Jamaican citizenship, did not possess a Jamaican passport and is a Canadian citizen.
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