Dual citizenship explained

Who can have dual citizenship?

The recent debate on whether Mwende Mwinzi should have been cleared to take up a post as the South Korea ambassador has raised the debate on dual citizenship.

Her name was approved by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations on condition she would renounce her US citizenship.

The Constitution indicates the conditions under which a person can acquire dual citizenship.

Media in your stories can include still or animated images as well as video and audio files.

Different section types allow for different media options and contain placeholders to give you a sense of some of their capabilities. Replacing any on-screen media element can be achieved by clicking the green EDIT MEDIA "photo" icon in its top-left corner. There's instructions for each media type in the window that will pop up on click and tips for adding different media optimised for wide or narrow screens.

What is dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship refers to a situation where a person is a citizen of two states under their laws.

Article 16 of the Constitution states that a citizen by birth does not lose his/her citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country.

State officials are restricted from dual citizenship.

Earlier this month, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission launched investigations to ascertain public officers holding dual citizenship.

Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak said the commission will take action against those found to have violated Article 78 of the Constitution.

Mbarak added that actions to be taken will include initiating mechanisms for removal from office for violating the Leadership and Integrity Act.

"EACC will continue to escalate the war against both corruption and unethical conduct in line with Chapter Six of the Constitution, the Leadership, Integrity and other laws," Mbarak said.

Clause 1 of Article 78 of the Constitution says that a person is not eligible for election or appointment to a State office unless the person is a citizen of Kenya.

Clause 2 says that state officer or a member of the defence forces shall not hold dual citizenship.

Dual citizenship for state officers does not apply to judges and members of commissions.

In the case of Mwinzi, she challenged the committee's decision that she should renounce her US citizenship, saying it would violate her rights.

Leadership And Integrity Act on dual citizenship

Article 31(1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act No. 19 of 2012 states that a state officer who acquires dual citizenship shall lose his or her position as a state officer.

The person shall only retain his/her position upon appointment by officially renouncing the other country's citizenship.

The appointed person will only take the office after renouncing the other citizenship.

The Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 states that a dual citizen shall, subject to the limitations contained in the Constitution, be entitled to a passport and other travel documents and to such other rights as shall be the entitlement of citizens.

A state officer is required to carry out the duties of the office with impartiality.

State officers

A state officer is any person occupying a public office, which is an office in the national government, a county government or the public service.

States officers include the President, Deputy President, Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Parliament, judges and magistrates, a member of a commission, member of a county assembly, governor or deputy governor, or other member of the executive committee of a county government, Attorney General and holder of an independent office as stipulated in Chapter 15 of the Constitution.

Others are the DPP, Secretary to the Cabinet, Principal Secretary, Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, Commander of Kenya Defence Forces, the Director General of the National Intelligence Service and the Inspector General and Deputy Inspectors General of the police service.

Revocation of citizenship

The state can revoke someone's citizenship gained through birth. This can happen if it is established that citizenship had been acquired in a fraudulent manner, false representation or concealment of any material fact by any person.

It can also be revoked if it is revealed later that the nationality or parentage of the person becomes known and reveals that the person was a citizen of another country.

A person can also lose his/her citizenship if the actual age is known and reveals that the person was older than eight years when found in Kenya.

Earlier in August, lawyer Miguna Miguna sued 25 top government officials for denying him his Kenyan citizenship.

Miguna said that he was a Kenyan-born citizen at the time he was deported and that at no point did he renounce his citizenship.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, the Attorney General, Principal Secretary of the Directorate of Immigration and Registrations of Persons, Director of Criminal Investigations, Director of Public Prosecutions and Director of Immigration and Registration of Persons are among the state officials sued by Miguna.

Miguna was deported forcibly by the government to Canada in February 2018, saying that he was issued a Kenyan passport unlawfully.

“At the time, Miguna was unlawfully issued a Kenyan passport, he was working as an adviser to then Prime Minister Raila Odinga,” the government's statement read.

The government explained that Miguna left Kenya in 1988 using travel documents.

It added that he was subsequently expelled from the university before fleeing into exile in Canada where he obtained citizenship.

Miguna dismissed the allegations in his suite, adding that he was a student leader at the University of Nairobi in 1987 and was subjected to torture in the same year for expressing his political opinions and engaged in lawful activities.

He said that he did not voluntarily travel from Kenya to Canada and that he had never renounced his Kenyan citizenship.