Family and Persons Bill pending as MPs go on recess

The Chamber of Deputies on Monday examined over 100 articles in the Persons and Family Bill in a bid to make the final amendments before the Parliament could go on recess.  
Senate president Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo (R), and  the Speaker of the Lower chamber Donatille Mukabalisa address journalists yesterday. (John Mbanda)
Senate president Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo (R), and the Speaker of the Lower chamber Donatille Mukabalisa address journalists yesterday. (John Mbanda)

The Chamber of Deputies on Monday examined over 100 articles in the Persons and Family Bill in a bid to make the final amendments before the Parliament could go on recess.

The bill, which has 333 articles, seeks to regulate persons, family and their inter-relations.

By the end of the parliamentary business on Monday evening, the Chamber of Deputies had considered over 301 articles, with the pending 28 articles to be discussed during the third session in October. The Senate also started their recess yesterday. 

Speaking at a news briefing at the Senate plenary hall, the Senate president, Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, said lawmakers passed a total of 12 laws during the second quarter of the year which included the ratification of the national budget framework papers and regional peace and security pacts, among others.

“During the second ordinary session for this year, the Parliament approved 12 bills, and contributed toward the ratification exercise for the 2014-2015 national budget, among other bills that were sent by the Cabinet to Parliament and are now undergoing scrutiny in the respective standing committees,” Ntawukuriryayo said.

Once passed by the deputies, the Persons and Family Bill will proceed to the Senate, when the lawmakers resume their third quarter for final endorsement before it is sent to the President for assent.

MP Alfred Kayiranga, the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Gender in the Chamber of Deputies, said the Bill has three fundamental clauses that were never provided for in the existing law.

Under the new Bill, children aged 16 and above will be allowed to access jobs while 18-year-olds will be regarded as mature citizens with voting rights among others.  

“However the Bill stipulates that one can only legally get married once they are 21 years old. These clauses are different yet complement one another in a certain way,” Kayiranga said.

Article 103 of the Bill puts the age of consent at 18, but marriage cannot be approved until one clocks 21.

“Without prejudice to this law and other laws, an adult is one who has attained the age of 18,” the Bill states in part.

Kayiranga, addressing journalists, said members of the committee visited about 20 districts and sought views from the ordinary people about the  inefficiencies of the existing law.

“The districts we did not visit had been visited by the officials in the Ministry of Justice engaging the public on the same issues that existed in the current law,” he reiterated.

Parliament, which ended its second ordinary session of 2014 on Monday, will resume its ordinary  business on October 4 for the third and the last quarter of the year.