Government breaches citizenship requirement: Opposition

Vanuatu’s Opposition has accused the Government of breaching regulations on the issuing of naturalised citizenship to foreigners.

Opposition Leader, Ralph Regenvanu, says, “We are aware that the constitutional requirement to live ten years continuously in Vanuatu before becoming an actual citizen has been breached.”

Mr Regenvanu says the Government has been issuing naturalised citizenship to individuals who have not resided ten years in Vanuatu.

“This is serious because it does not only break the law but it breaks the constitution,” Mr Regenvanu said.

“Therefore, the Opposition intends to gather information on all incidents so that when we get back into government we can make sure the people who have breached the constitution will face the consequences of their actions.”

In response, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Bob Loughman, who is also responsible for Vanuatu’s citizenship programs, says Vanuatu has several different legal pathways for individuals to become a Vanuatu citizen.

Prime Minister Loughman says if the Opposition wants to scrutinize the government’s performance, rather than making accusations to the media, they should check the facts with Vanuatu Citizenship Commission that is responsible for administering the law and get the commission to answer their queries.

Vanuatu’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 provides for the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission to grant seven different types of citizenship. These include citizenship by: naturalization that requires a ten-year prior residency, marriage of a non-citizen married to a Vanuatu citizen; and the so-called ‘Entitlement’ and ‘Regain’ citizenship categories.

Another three ways of obtaining citizenship that have been controversial since they were introduced involve non-citizens buying citizenship or honorary citizenship. They include the Capital Investment Immigration Plan, the Vanuatu Development Support Program and the Vanuatu Contribution Program.

Last year, the cash-for-passport schemes outstripped all other sources of revenue under the former Charlot Salwai-led Government.

In December 2012, a two-thirds majority of Vanuatu Parliament approved an amendment to the constitution to recognize dual citizenship.

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