Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When Citizens Aren't Equal

Áfrico Madrid, the Honduran Foreign Minister says naturalized citizens cannot engage in political activity. We wonder what constitution and set of laws he's been reading. His position would seem to violate the Honduran constitution and Ley de Migración y Extranjeria (Decreto 208-2003).

First to what Madrid told La Tribuna.
"The country is not a field in which the foreigners can do what they want and for this we are going to apply the screws [to them]...."
"The constitution of the Republic and the Ley de Migración y Extranjería facilitate evaluation of those persons who have acquired naturalization, including suspending and deporting from the country, this is a power the State has."
Well, yes that is a power the State has, but only under carefully defined circumstances as we will see below.

The only named individual to be threatened is Federico Alvarez, a Costa Rican citizen, former president of the Central American Development Bank, and 40 year resident of Honduras. During the de facto regime, Michelletti got Congress to pass a bill giving him naturalized citizenship. But Madrid, and Porfirio Lobo Sosa, claim that Alvarez and five "foreigners" are targeted for expulsion because of political activity.

Remind anyone of the excuse Micheletti's Foreign Minister, Oscar Matute, used to expell Father Andres Tamayo?

What they did then appeared to us at the time to be without merit in Honduran law.

This looks to us like more of the same creative fabrication of Honduran law.

Now in Federico Alvarez's case, Madrid may have a leg to stand on, if, as claimed, Alvarez did not complete the application process for naturalization. Honduran law is clear. Foreigners may not engage in politics in Honduras. But, once you're naturalized, a citizen can engage in politics. The things you, as a naturalized citizen cannot do are spelled out in the Honduran constitution.

A naturalized citizen is a full citizen according to the constitution of Honduras, except for certain clearly spelled out specific things in the constitution.

Article 26 says a naturalized citizen of Honduras cannot:
- Perform official acts on behalf of the Honduran government in your birth country.

Article 42 establishes the grounds by which you can lose citizenship.
- Supporting an enemy of Honduras in a time of war.
- Giving support to a foreigner or foreign government against the government of Honduras.
- To act politically for a foreign government or military, without the permission of Congress.
- by restricting the freedom to vote, adulterate ballots, or employing fraudulent means to circumvent the popular will.
- by supporting re-election of the President of the Republic.
- by, as a naturalized citizen, residing more than 2 years outside of Honduras.

Article 42 goes on to state that for the first two offenses, Congress must issue a law revoking citizenship. For next two, the Executive must issue a decree, and for the last two, the Executive must issue a decree, and there must have been a legal condemnation in the appropriate judicial court.

Decreto 345-2002 (ratified by Decreto 31-2003) establishes that you lose your naturalization if you
(1) accept citizenship in another country
(2) your naturalization letter is revoked for legal reasons.

The Ley de Migración y Extraneria establishes in Article 65 the following reasons a naturalized citizen can lose their citizenship.
(1) By becoming a naturalized citizen in another country
(2) By the cancellation of your naturalization papers
(3) when justified by serious reasons which show the citizen unworthy of Honduran nationality.
(4) when they made a false declaration to aquire citizenship.

That's it.

There's nothing there about a naturalized citizen not participating in the political life of the country. That would make them second class citizens, not something the Honduran constitution contemplates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The precedent of Father Tamayo was a very bad one. I haven't seen a legal analysis of how many of the steps were omitted in making him a stateless person, something that I believe is forbidden by international law, but the process was certainly run by railroad.