Republic of Benin to join other African countries granting citizenship to third-generation descendants from Haiti, Brazil, others

The Beninese parliament is considering a draft law that proposes citizenship by descent to third-generation African descendants worldwide for those from Haiti, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States.

If approved, this legalization will place Benin among other countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Rwanda and Zambia, which grant citizenship to third-generation descendants and beyond.

This was discussed during a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Benin.

The Bill seeks to restore a lost connection with the descendants of those expelled from Africa due to slavery and provide recognition to potential descendants of Beninese victims of the slave trade, a devastating crime that has deeply marked the history of Benin and Africa.

This initiative follows the government’s recent decision to waive visa requirements for citizens of 31 African countries for stays of less than 90 days.

Furthermore, the government stated that the draft law presented to the National Representative reinforces the pan-Africanist policy advocated by the government since 2016 through the abolition of visas for all African citizens and reflects a strong commitment to African integration.

  • Requirements for Citizenship

The Bill proposes granting Beninese citizenship to anyone who can prove their ancestry to Africa.

According to the General Secretariat of the Benin government, it states, “Article 98 of our Constitution provides that citizenship and civil rights are the domain of the law. Although Beninese nationality, by recognition, confers on its holder all the rights and obligations attached to it, according to Article 36 of Law No. 2022-32 of December 20, 2022“.

To obtain Beninese citizenship, candidates must provide tangible proof of their Afro-descendant ancestry through official documents, certified testimony, or DNA tests, as stated by the General Secretariat of the Benin Government.

Qualified applicants will be issued a Beninese passport valid for three years, offering visa-free access to 63 destinations worldwide, as the first step in the recognition process.

However, access to the final citizenship certificate will be conditional on residence in the country.

This initiative is significant as it acknowledges the deep historical and cultural ties that extend beyond immediate generational lines, aiming to restore connections severed by historical injustices such as slavery and forced migration.

By joining this group of African countries, Benin reaffirms its commitment to pan-Africanism and acknowledges the significant role of the African diaspora in the continent’s history and future.

  • African countries which grant citizenship by descent

The move aligns with Benin’s broader efforts to foster African integration and unity.

For example, a country such as Liberia has a unique history of resettlement of freed African Americans, and offers citizenship to descendants of these settlers, recognizing the enduring bond between the nation and its diaspora. Similarly, Sierra Leone extends citizenship to individuals who can trace their ancestry to the country, acknowledging the widespread African diaspora created by the transatlantic slave trade.

Sudan and South Sudan, despite their complex political landscapes, have also embraced inclusive citizenship laws that welcome third-generation descendants.

Eritrea’s approach to citizenship for descendants reflects its broader efforts to engage with its global diaspora, which has been instrumental in the country’s socio-economic development.

Rwanda, recovering from the aftermath of genocide, views the inclusion of third-generation descendants in its citizenship laws as a crucial step towards reconciliation and nation-building.

This inclusive policy aims to heal divisions and foster a unified national identity that transcends immediate familial ties. Similarly, Zambia’s progressive stance on nationality laws, has also opened its doors to third-generation descendants.


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