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The president of the Universal Human Rights International, Torli Krua, is calling on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to issue an executive order granting visa waivers to thousands of Liberians in the diaspora, to facilitate their return to the country to invest into the economic.

Krua said the gesture was necessary to allow “everyone who was forced out of this country to get a chance to come back and contribute to the private sector. Unless those who are out of the country come back and invest into the economy, the U.S.-based human rights activist said, “we are going nowhere.” Krua said his call was especially important because of Liberia, as a member of the Economic Community of West African States, allows citizens from ECOWAS countries to come to Liberia without obtaining a visa to enter the country.

“I want for Liberia to do the same for its citizens what they are doing for Nigerians and Sierra Leoneans,” he said. “This is not dual citizenship; other people have issued an executive order for Liberians – like former U.S. President George Bush and so many others presidents, for Liberians in the diaspora.”

Krua was referring to orders from Bush and other U.S. presidents to provide legal status to Liberians who traveled on visitors and other visas to the U.S. during the civil war.

In Liberia, dual citizenship has always been a hot button topic. A proposal was provided to the legislature by the president to allow dual citizenship, but there has been no progress on the issue.

Krua said he believes that a visa waiver can be a one step forward for having a dual citizenship law passed in the country. “Dual citizenship may come down the road at some point; but right now, step-by-step, if Liberia can give visa waiver to 300 million ECOWAS citizens, the same needs to be done for her citizens in America and other parts of the world,” he said.

“It makes sense to do so for those people who are out there and sending their money back in the country to invest into the economy – and we have thousands of ECOWAS Citizens coming in the country and taking the money from the economy and sending it back home,” he said. “I don’t know why it is taking the government more than 11 years to do so – maybe they don’t know, so I am making this recommendation to the president.”

Krua, who hails from Tappita in Nimba, started his career as an entrepreneur, servicing U.S. embassies across Africa and Europe. During the civil war, he was thrust into a role as a human rights activist after recognizing his privilege to travel in and out of the country and seeing his fellow Liberians not having such opportunities. He successfully lobbied with U.S. congressmen and policymakers to increase the quota of refugees from Africa being allowed into the U.S. and has been recognized by many organizations for his work, including the National Peace Corps Association, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, the State of Massachusetts, and the City of Boston, which declared “Torli Krua Day” in his honor.

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