Ditching the Dual Citizenship
Posted on January 24th, 2019

 Somaweera Sirisinghe of Auckland, New Zealand

The issue of dual citizenship held by politicians arose recently in Australia and in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka an MP’s election was declared void due to the person being a citizen of another country as well. Then stories of others of same genre were coming out of the woodworks.

We have to note here that no one have been forced to obtain citizenship of another country. They seem to have obtained it on their own volition for their own benefit and then sought the advantages of the Dual Citizenship” allowed by Sri Lanka Citizenship Law. Many other Asian countries including India do not have dual citizenships.

Affected Sri Lankan politicians were seen rushing in search of solutions and some even ventured to give interpretations not only to the Sri Lanka’s law but to the laws of the other countries and reportedly some have managed to remove this debilitation.

Is it such an easy thing to do? Legal minds may differ in their opinions because there are some gray areas. Perhaps it may even require judicial interpretation or subsidiary legislation!

According Sri Lanka’s citizenship law a person ceases to be a citizen once he becomes a citizen of another country. However, the provisions for dual citizenship” allow a person who fulfills the set of requirements specified in the law to either retain or resume his Sri Lankan citizenship. Thereafter she/he is considered as a person with dual citizenship and the Sri Lankan Passport issued to her/him contains an endorsement to this effect and proceeds to name the other country of citizenship.

What happens when a person with dual citizenship causes to withdraw or relinquish his/her citizenship of the other country? Logically he may be left with one citizenship but the legal status that he has retained or resumed Sri Lankan citizenship through dual citizenship process” remains intact. Does the ditching of the citizenship of the other country legally bring him back to the pristine Sri Lanka citizenship he held previous to his foreign domicile?

5 Responses to “Ditching the Dual Citizenship”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Very good point Sirisinghe.!!

    If GR wins next presidential election, UNP will predictably challenge the declaration of the election results and ask judiciary to review his citizenship.

    Being SC always biased towards UNP, SC will take whatever the legal interpretation they can get hold of and disqualify GR and elect Ranil as the next president.

    GR should immediately reapply for his sole citizenship again. Otherwise people will not be able to have a meaningful presidential election if GR is going to contest.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    19A prevents a foreign citizen holding those public offices and the election law allows only Sri Lankan citizens to contest elections. GR may have to obtain Sri Lankan citizenship in that case. However, in my view, since he has been a citizen of Sri Lanka since 2005 this won’t arise. Obviously he cannot be without citizenship of any country.

    Keeping US citizenship has advantages. If GR is convicted by a shoddy legal case, USA will take up the issue with Sri Lanka. He must be allowed certain privileges in the process that are not available to the general public. He can also rush back home to USA to avoid undergoing jail terms as the two countries don’t have a prisoner exchange program.

    It is a delicate balancing act. He cannot give it up too soon and cannot do so too late.

    He may also face a new court case on conflict of interest on national security after he gives up US citizenship over the 2007 defence deal he signed with USA (Robert Blake). If this case is filed now, he is protected by the US law as he was extending US national interests which all US citizens are bound to do. He loses this protection once he gives up US citizenship.

    19A has introduced added complications to already messy politics.

  3. Hiranthe Says:

    Many of the TNA MP’s are having dual citizenships. But the European countries declined to disclose this.

    How can this be applied to only Sinhalese people.

    Why can’t anyone go to SC and challenge this, at least to expose the double standard of our SC judges.

  4. Ratanapala Says:

    It is the Sri Lankan government who gives the opportunity to a Sri Lankan citizen who obtains citizenship in another country to retain the Sri Lankan citizenship by applying for Dual Citizenship. A Sri Lankan citizen who obtains citizenship in another country has to make an application to the Sri Lanka Government and pay a certain fee for this purpose. In doing so the applicant has to show documents that show they have already obtained citizenship in another country. The Dual Citizenship Certificate is given under the signature of the President of Sri Lanka.

    Therefore the Sri Lankan Government should know each and every person who has been afforded this privilege.

  5. Randeniyage Says:

    “In doing so the applicant has to show documents that show they have already obtained citizenship in another country.”

    No. I did not do that. I obtained dual citizenship before obtaining foreign citizenship. That was long time ago though.

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