Nauruan nationality law

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Nationality and citizenship in the Republic of Nauru are currently defined and regulated by the Constitution of Nauru and the Nauruan Community Ordinance 1956-1962. Dual citizenship is permitted.

Obtaining citizenship[edit]

Part VIII of the Constitution pertains to citizenship, and defined who was to become a citizen of Nauru upon the country's accession to independence in 1968. Article 71 refers to the Nauruan Community Ordinance 1956-1962. Any person who is

"included in one of the classes of persons who constituted the Nauruan Community within the meaning of the Nauruan Community Ordinance 1956-1966 of Nauru is a Nauruan citizen."

Section 4 of the Ordinance in question establishes legal belonging to the "Nauruan community". Nauruans under this law include

  • "aboriginal natives of the Island of Nauru by virtue of the institutions, customs and usages of the aboriginal natives of the Island of Nauru"
  • non-Nauruan Pacific Islanders who are married to a Nauruan, and who thereby are deemed to become Nauruan
  • non-Nauruan Pacific Islanders who have settled in Nauru, provided that they adhere to certain criteria, such as adopting a Nauruan way of life (cf. section 5.c.)
  • any child born to two Nauruan parents within any of the definitions above, and any child born to a Nauruan who has married a Pacific Islander

The Constitution re-iterates the provisions of the Ordinance, and provides additional means of obtaining citizenship. These include:

  • being born in Nauru and having no possibility of obtaining citizenship of any other country
  • being a woman who marries a Nauruan citizen
  • being granted citizenship by Parliament

The Constitution also establishes that the Parliament of Nauru may "make provision for depriving a person of his Nauruan citizenship", except if that person obtained citizenship through the provisions of the 1956 Ordinance, and except if that person was born of two Nauruan parents or of a Nauruan parent married to a Pacific Islander. Parliament is also authorised by the Constitution to "make provision for the renunciation by a person of his Nauruan citizenship".

Attempted ban on dual citizenship for MPs, 2008[edit]

On 22 March 2008, the Speaker of the Nauruan Parliament, David Adeang, called a Parliamentary session, allegedly without informing government ministers, who therefore did not attend. Opposition MPs, Adeang included, constituted a majority of legislators present, and passed a ruling outlawing dual citizenship for Members of Parliament.

The ruling, if applied, would affect senior Cabinet ministers Dr. Kieren Keke and Frederick Pitcher. Were they compelled to resign from Parliament, the Opposition would control a majority of seats in Parliament.

The government rejected the legitimacy of the ruling, stating that it was unconstitutional because of the lack of parliamentary quorum.[1] President Marcus Stephen accused Adeang and the Opposition of passing the ruling "after dark on Easter Saturday", "under candelight".[2]

In April, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment to the citizenship law was unconstitutional, thus confirming that persons with dual nationality remain entitled to sit in Parliament.[3]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]