By Jenny Ragaruma
When I go down town with my three young daughters in tow it is quite usual for me to hear people half-whispering to one another, “Olketa half-Solo?”. Sometimes, someone will be brave enough to ask outright, to which I answer proudly, “Yes! They are”.
But technically they are not. The Citizenship Act of Solomon Islands rules out dual nationality of its citizens and so although my children are by heritage half Solo / half Aussie, they are not allowed to hold dual citizenship.
And mixed-families such as my own are not the only ones being affected. Solomon Islanders living long-term overseas, face the agonizing decision as to whether they keep or forfeit their Solomon passport. And conversely, there are many expats who have lived in Solomon Islands for years, love it as they do their country of birth and eagerly desire to become citizens, and yet do not wish to forfeit their citizenship of birth.
However, dual, or multiple, nationality is becoming more accepted in the Pacific with Samoa, Tonga, Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand and, most recently, Papua New Guinea all permitting multiple nationality in some form or another. Many believe that it is to the benefit of Solomon Islands and Solomon Islanders that the issue of multiple-nationality for its citizens be prioritized.
The current government has stated its intention to review the Citizenship Act and in response to this a letter has been written to Prime Minister Sogavare and the Ministry of Home Affairs to look seriously at the issue of multiple-nationality. If you are directly affected by this issue or know someone who is; or if you are a Solomon Islander who believes that the provision of multiple-citizenship would bring great benefits to the nation as a whole as it interacts more closely in a regional and global society; then you are invited to show your support and sign this letter.
If you live in Honiara it is preferable that you sign a hard copy in person. There are several places that you can do this:
- Lime Lounge
- Solosoft (Room 23, upstairs, NPF Plaza)
- Pasifiki (upstairs, Hyuandi Mall)
- Nice Bola (Heritage Park Hotel)
- LePharmacy (Town Ground)
- Doug and Moddie’s Café (Kukum)
- Officeworks (Panatina Plaza)
If you are overseas, or know of people who could sign overseas, there is an online version of the letter. Follow this link to view the letter and sign it.