Dual citizenship receives overwhelming support in first reading

Rimbik Pato
Immigration and Foreign Affairs
Minister Rimbik Pato
The proposed amendments in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) constitution to allow dual citizenship got overwhelming support with 84 – 0 in favour of the change during its first and second readings on Tuesday.

The Bill would allow Papua New Guineans to obtain more than one citizenship without automatically losing their PNG citizenship.

Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbik Pato, said PNG citizens are disadvantaged compared to citizens of more than 60 countries. He said Papua New Guineans living and working abroad are limited by their inability to take up citizenship of that country.

He added that those who took the hard choice of taking up new citizenship had the links to their land of birth and ancestral heritage revoked. Children who have a foreign parent also face the same dilemma when they turn 19. However, those who apply for dual citizenship will have to sacrifice some privileges.

Mr Pato said dual citizens will have the same rights but will not be allowed to vote, hold public office, own land or have free access to official documents in the country. He said they will also limit the ranged of prescribed countries which dual citizenship will be allowed.

Meanwhile, Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc ordered that the third reading be adjourned to allow further debate and a second vote before passing the Bill.

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