Rising cases of divorce worry judiciary

The number of people seeking a permanent dissolution of their marriage is increasing by the year, requiring society’s intervention into how spouses relate before it’s too late, the Chief Justice Sam Rugege said yesterday.

Addressing the media ahead of the 2018 Judicial Week, Rugege pointed out that though mediation is used to help couples to fix their issues, it was an uphill risk that required society’s intervention way before it is too late.

The Judicial Week starts Monday through Friday, next week.

“The number has been increasing. We try to use values and culture to try to fix these relationships but sometimes that also doesn’t work. There should be a way of following up and supporting families when the relationship is deteriorating so that it doesn’t end up into divorce or murder,” he said.

According to statistics, the number of people seeking divorce has been increasing drastically, moving from 21 divorces in 2016, to 69 in 2017, and 1,311 cases in 2018.

“There are instances where there are fast divorces but when it gets to sharing property, you find that couples don’t agree to a point where the case gets to High Court,” Rugege said. “That shouldn’t be the case.”

He added: “People should be discussing these issues with their families, friends or elders so that these issues are fixed without necessarily getting to court.”

Rugege touched on the issue of corruption that has been reported amongst mediators, saying that the effort to root out the vice will never stop.

“For us we have a constant campaign, a constant fight against corruption. We discourage the masses from accommodating it and we do the same for the mediators. The law is clear about what happens when one is caught,” he said.

The Deputy Prosecutor General, Agnes Mukagashugi, reminded the media that though this year’s judicial week theme rotates around finding ways to fix issues without necessarily dragging them to court, not every crime should be solved based on culture or Rwandan values.

“There are simple crimes that can be fixed by people sitting down, discussing them and finding a way forward but there are crimes that straight away require the immediate intervention of the law because they simply cannot be mediated. Crimes like rape and child molestation cannot be mediated,” she said.

During the Judicial Week, different institutions whose duties include addressing social problems will discuss how they can fix disagreements without involving courts and why local authorities that are in charge of mediation continue to fail in addressing some issues.