The government will spare no effort when clamping down on offenders for various crimes after the publication of three new revised laws, the Minister for Justice said Tuesday.
Johnston Busingye was briefing journalists on the newly published organic law modifying and complementing the 2010 organic law on the organisation, jurisdiction, and competence and functioning of the mediation committee, the 2016 law governing persons and family; and the 2016 law governing matrimonial regimes, donations and successions.
“The trend has been bad, and we have had cases of people involved in cattle rustling and other offences as offenders knew that mediation committees (Abunzi) would only mediate but we are now going to work harder such that these kinds of crimes are no more,” Busingye said.
“People must understand that things have changed and, we cannot tolerate such crimes. More effort will be put in such that organs like community policing, prosecution, and others, pay more attention.”
The new organic law on the organisation, jurisdiction, and competence and functioning of the mediation committee was amended last year with two important new elements introduced, including giving more prosecutorial powers to mediation committees.
On the jurisdiction of the mediation committees in civil matters, the minister said, the maximum value of a case that can be handled was revised from Rwf5 million to Rwf3 million because it was realised that the value of property has changed with time.
The new law governing persons and family, Busingye explained, is aligned with current national developments, including country demographics, the changing structure of administrative structures and other things.
Among others, marriage age remains at 21, and not 18 as earlier proposed in the Bill that had been taken to Parliament.
On effects of marriage or religious vows on a spouse’s name, the minister explained that marriage or religious vows in no way change a person’s name but with the consent of both spouses, a spouse has the right to bear the other spouse’s surname added to his or her usual name provided that such an addition of name is done with authorisation.
“Previously, no law provided for this but now if my wife was called Kankindi, I would be allowed to add it to my name if I so wished,” the Minister said.
Unlike before, the new law also provides for confirmation by DNA test or other scientific evidence in cases where there is a paternity petition.
Divorce on mutual consent between partners is now possible when couples have lived together for two years instead of five.
Regarding matrimonial regimes, the minister explained that it is the first time there is a single comprehensive law governing matrimonial regimes, donations and successions.
Article 6 of the law stipulates that the management of property comprises the powers of administration, enjoyment, disposal and sale subject to exceptions provided by the law.
Spouses under the community of property regime, or those who opt to jointly and equally own their property, manage the property together and have the same right to recover the property if taken, and act as legal representative of the same. The law stipulates that any property registered in one spouse’s name is part of the property belonging to spouses under the community of property regime.
Where dissolution of such a regime occurs due to death of one of the spouses, the property is owned by the surviving spouse until succession execution.
Furthermore, the right of the surviving spouse to the succession of the deceased spouse is among the new key elements in the law as the surviving spouse is entitled to take part in succession of the deceased spouse’s estate.
The three laws can be accessed on the websites of the Ministry of Justice and the Law Reform Commission (RLRC).