14 July 2014

Rwanda: Govt Moves to Amend Succession Law

Photo: UNEP
Kigali (file photo): Succession law to protect female genocide survivors.

Parliament has undertaken a process to amend the law regarding matrimonial regimes, family donations and succession to provide modalities of succession for female descendants who had been left out in the current law.

The amendments were initiated by the Rwanda Law Reform Commission (RLRC) in conjunction with the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), after finding gaps in the current law adopted in 1999.

The draft law is being scrutinised by the Chamber of Deputies' Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Gender.

Lambert Dushimimana, the legislative drafting specialist from RLRC, said while the current law empowered women to inherit from their parents and husbands, it left out other people.

This, he says, left many female orphans of the Genocide against the Tutsi being denied access to their parents' properties.

"The current law gave female descendants the right to succession and family donation but ignored problems that predate 1999," he said.

According to Dushimimana, the loophole in the old law left female Genocide orphans ceding their inheritance rights to their paternal uncles or other close relatives, which left them at the mercy of those relatives, who would at times abuse such properties.

"Various surveys done by stakeholders found that there were many challenges in implementing the law; which called for amendment," Dushimimana said.

Alfred Rwasa Kayiranga, the Committee chairperson, said the proposed law will cater for the interest of the family of the deceased.

"Female and male children have equal rights to the family estate," Jean Pierre Kayitare, the assistant Attorney General in charge of legislation drafting services at the Ministry of Justice, said.

Article 45 of the new bill indicates that all children, as defined by the civil law, shall inherit in equal parts without any discrimination between male and female children.


The new law will also regulate the donations or gifts that the property owner can give out to protect the interest of the children.

The law, according to Dushimimana, still gives the parent the right to donate from the estate but the donation cannot exceed one fifth of the family estate.

"This will protect the misuse of the family estate by the owner at the expense of the beneficiaries," he said.

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