Lawmakers tackle hot issue regarding lost marriage records

Members of the parliament during a past session. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.

There is need to urgently restore missing civil marriage records since people could lose property rights if their spouses deny having married as there are no marriage evidence.

The concern was raised by MPs while scrutinising the law governing persons and family, which is being amended.

The proposed amendment will also include restoring civil status registers that lack some data because they were not correctly filled such as missing signatures of the marriage officer and couples

Normally the law says, a civil registrar makes a report on the disappearance and submits it to the immediate supervisor by explaining the circumstances of the disappearance of the register with a copy to the judicial police organ in their jurisdiction.

The immediate supervisor instructs the concerned civil registrar to record on a year-by-year basis disappeared data contained in civil status registers.

They then request competent organs to conduct an inquiry and take any action considered appropriate to inform the public.

The results are posted for up to three months where they may be accessed by any interested person.

However, the process was opposed by MP Euthalie Nyirabega.

“We have realised that civil registrars fear and are resistant to make public such a list of missing records because they suspect men might know about it and start denying marriage. Women might lose property rights. We have to discuss it and respond to all concerns in this law.”

In addition, the law has a principle of non-retroactivity meaning that it might not reconstitute records that were made before the law.

“We know that many records were lost in various circumstances before 2016 when the law was enacted, including during 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Yet the law only considers documents lost after 2016,” she said.

Discussions were adjourned until November.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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