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Solomon Islands undertakes regional consultations on dual citizenship

Secretary to the Dual Citizenship Taskforce, Christopher Waiwori said the consultations in Vanuatu and Fiji provided ample practical realities of dual citizenship and its application in both countries and how it can be selectively applied in Solomon Islands.

The Dual Citizenship Special Taskforce was sanctioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs to undertake a regional consultative programme with the Melanesian Spearhead Group member countries to source the best practices in terms of administration of dual citizenship that could be better applied in the development of the country’s dual citizenship legislation.

“I’m profoundly pleased with the progress made on the consultation process so far as it provided the committee with more knowledge and understanding of the various approaches to how dual citizenship is administered and Managed in Vanuatu and Fiji.

“There are various approaches applied to the dual citizenship in these two countries, including categorising citizens, preferential privileges and financial considerations.
“The primary objective of dual citizenship of these two countries is the same as the one that Solomon Island is proposing to allow for dual citizenship as an incentive to reintegrate into their societies former citizens who have renounced their Solomon Islands citizenship and have been living overseas to regain their citizenship.  The other category is through marriage, and through naturalisation.”

“Basically dual citizenship is about reversing the brain drain in order to bring back the skills and expertise in order to participate fully to the socio and economic development of Solomon Islands.”

Waiwori said with the positive progress in its consultations, the Dual Citizenship Special Taskforce is optimistic of providing quality recommendations on the draft Solomon Islands Citizenship Bill 2017 (dual citizenship) that has recently been approved by Cabinet.

“We are now very aware of the implications of various approaches to how dual citizenship is applied and this an added bonus to our work,” he added.

Waiwori said the Committee also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Solomon Islands blackbirding descendants in Fiji.

“Through an arrangement by the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji, Patteson Oti, the Dual Citizenship Special Taskforce was able to meet with two leaders of the Solomon Islands blackbirding descendants in Fiji, Pateresio Nunu- General Secretary of the Melanesian Council and Taniela Lui, Chairman of the Kalekana Community in Suva.

“During the meeting, the two emotionally shared their experiences and their desire to be able to return and be reunited again with their relatives in Solomon Islands.

“They conveyed their appreciation to the Chairman of the Committee, Freddy Ota’au for the wisdom of the Solomon Islands Government in prioritising dual citizenship, a law which they see as an avenue to mend broken linkages and resolve historical mysteries of the blackbirding era.”

The Dual Citizenship Special Committee is now in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea consulting with relevant government authorities administering dual citizenship and will complete their consultation by the end of the week in Canberra, Australia.

Waiwori said the Dual Citizenship Taskforce will conduct further consultations in Honiara next week, before a final bill is submitted to Cabinet for final approval and eventually tabled in Parliament.

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