JUBA – Just days after denying that the government is not selling citizenship to foreigners for a few dollars, South Sudan’s ministry of interior has come under public criticism after activists on social media uncovered a Lebanese citizen carrying South Sudan passport, and possibly South Sudan nationality.
In recent months, social media users have been circulating unconfirmed reports of the ministry selling national documents to foreigners for as few as $100, without due process that is always required by law when giving nationality to foreigners.
Last week, the director of Nationality, Civil Registry, Passport & Immigration, Lt. Gen. John Akot, denied the reports and then asked the public to report foreigners found to be caring South Sudan nationality.
“I have not heard of this. South Sudan can’t be sold out with a hundred dollar, these cases are not there because there are procedures in place,” he said on Thursday last week during an exclusive interview with Sudans Post.
General Akot however admitted that the directorate had last year arrest some criminals who he said were found selling out national documents as well as residency permits to foreigners.
“We found a group of criminals operating last year in Nimule and we apprehended them. They used to print false documents such as nationality. They were found and our team managed to arrest them,” the top migration officer said.
“If you find any foreigner with South Sudanese nationality, it will not be a real nationality, it must be a false one. If you find any one, don’t leave him, get his name and come to me. We will send our crime officer and summon him to our office,” he advised.
However, in what appears to confirm the social media reports, a passport of a Lebanese born national circulating on social media confirming that the government may have in fact awarded the country’s nationality to foreigners.
The foreigner named Hamzeh Ahmed whose occupation is written as ‘businessman’ is born on 27/07/1989, according to the South Sudanese document.
Social media users took to different platforms to criticize government and demand explanation over the unlawful acts.
“This is what a desperate regime does to our country, awarding our beautiful country’s citizenship to foreigners to snatch opportunities that are supposed to be given to the real citizens. Sad,” wrote one social media user.
Another social media activist urged the ministry of interior to come up to explain saying “this must be explained. The ministry of interior must come out and explain what happened in the directorate of nationality and how this foreigner was given out citizenship.”
“This is a crime and is punishable by laws of the Republic of South Sudan.”
South Sudan’s nationality law which was adopted immediately after independence in July 2011 states in its Article 8 that:
“(1) A person born before or after this Act has entered into force shall be considered a South Sudanese National by birth if such person meets any of the following requirements— (a) any Parents, grandparents or great-grandparents of such a person, on the male or female line, were born in South Sudan; or (b) such person belongs to one of the indigenous ethnic communities of South Sudan.
“A person shall be considered a South Sudanese National by birth, if at the time of the coming into force of this Act— (a) he or she has been domiciled in South Sudan since 1.1.1956; or (b) if any of his or her parents or grandparents have been domiciled in South Sudan since 1.1.1956.
(3) A person born after the commencement of this Act, shall be a South Sudanese National by birth if his or her father or mother was a South Sudanese National by birth or naturalization at the time of the birth of such a person.
(4) A person who is or was first found in South Sudan as a deserted infant of unknown Parents shall, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to be a South Sudanese National by birth.”