Dual Nationality allows Iraqi Officials to Escape Abroad

Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parliamentary blocs are equally opposed to the bill, but no member has dared to openly oppose it or publicly defend having a second nationality.

An estimated 70-100 members of parliament hold foreign citizenship, according to a source close to the legal department of the Council of Representatives who asked to remain anonymous. A considerable number of executive officials also hold second passports, including ministers and diplomats. Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in 2016 that some 32 of the country’s 66 ambassadors hold a foreign citizenship.

The difficulty of passing the bill while many parliamentarians benefit from its suspension is exacerbated by the fact that officials in both the executive branch and the judiciary also benefit from the lack of such a law.

“Legislation that would annul the acquired citizenships of senior officials will not happen because the people dominating the political process mostly have a second nationality,” Judge Munir Haddad, a former deputy president of the Supreme Criminal Court, told Al-Monitor.

Haddad added, “The law that was in place under the last regime removed Iraqi citizenship from anyone who gained another nationality, while the law on Iraqi nationality that was brought in after 2003 allowed for dual nationality as most of the people who took power had gained citizenship of other countries during their time in exile, even though the constitution banned people with dual nationality from senior positions.”

The bill, which has been stuck in parliament for two years, lays out 14 categories of officials who may not keep their second nationality and their position at the same time. Article 2 defines the phrase “high-ranking sovereign and security positions” mentioned in the Iraqi Constitution: the speaker and two deputy speakers of parliament, the president and deputy presidents of the republic, the prime minister and other ministers, the governor of the Central Bank, the president and members of the Supreme Judicial Council, ambassadors, provincial governors and heads of provincial council and board directors, along with senior members of the army and internal security services, security apparatus and the intelligence services.

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