Written evidence from Shelly Omarie Duberry (NBB0017)
Dear Chairperson & Committee Members:
Re: JCHR Public Scrutiny - Nationality and Borders Bill 2021 – Feedback
I am writing to provide my feedback for the Nationality and Borders Bill currently before parliament. I believe what I say represents many others like me who feel our connection to the United Kingdom and her British Overseas Territories is valid and essential to this process.
My grandfather is a CUKC/British Dependent Territories/British Overseas Territories Citizen "CUKC/BDTC/BOTC" otherwise than by descent. He was born in 1934 in Montserrat, a former British colony, now a British Overseas Territory. In 2002 BOTC's were given an automatic right to full British citizenship under the British Overseas Territories Act. My father was born in Antigua, another former British colony that gained independence in 1981. He is regarded as a CUKC/BDTC/BOTC & British citizen by descent. In 1985 I was born out of wedlock in Antigua on 21 March 1985. I hold an Antiguan passport. I understand the current legislation will not remedy my situation.
I am aware that's since 1915, British citizenship is only allowed to pass down one generation. I strongly feel this is unfair, as it denies a person like me the ability to genuinely feel a deeper connection to my father's homeland and the mother country. Instead, I am treated as a stranger, a visitor in my grandparent's land. My family history and input into British society
counts for nothing in the eyes of the law. We should be re-considered in your review to see if you could make further amendments to add a pathway in this legislation. It is right & proper to correct the issue of BOTC children born abroad out of wedlock who has been denied official recognition to their parent's homelands. I, amongst others, should be included in this bill.
I met with Ms. Janice Panton, the UK Representative for Montserrat and member of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association “UKOTA” and made her aware of my predicament. Due the way the law is written there is no help or solution she or the UKOTA can do to provide a remedy for me and others like me.
Another avenue that is closed off to Commonwealth grandchildren of British Overseas Territories descent is: I, unlike the grandchildren of other Commonwealth citizens, cannot take advantage of the UK's Ancestry visa program, as my grandparent was not born in mainland UK but a Colony now Territory. Another example of gross unfairness existing in British nationality law. The pathway could be amended and extended onto the grandchildren of CUKC/BDTC/BOTC citizens. If I were born in Australia and had a grandparent born in mainland UK, I would have no problem utilizing that route. But, no, the law is written as such to block grandchildren of British Overseas Territories descent. We are also Commonwealth children, and as such should be treated equally and fairly. If the UK amends the nationality law and opens up the Ancestry visa program to children of descent who reside in other Commonwealth countries such as Antigua, you would increase its access to a very talented and well-educated employment pool.
I respectfully ask you to consider adding your weight to these points. The United Kingdom and Territories need to become more progressive and inclusive. It seems when it comes to its links to the colonies, the UK government does very little to bring us, the grandchildren, into the folder so we can stand assured we belong to our heritage.
Shelly Omarie Duberry