Women lawyers advocate passage of Spousal and Intestate Succession Bills

Ghanaian Women lawyers have met at a sensitisation seminar in Accra to strategies on advocacy for the urgent passage of the Property Right of Spouses Bill and the Intestate Succession Bill.

They claimed that the two bills appeared to have stalled in Parliament and needed urgent attention to ensure their passage before December 2012.

Mrs Shaila Minkah-Premo, Chairperson, Ghana Bar Association’s Women and Minors Rights Committee, explained that after the draft by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department, the bills were yet to secure the approval of Parliament, compelling women advocacy groups to launch crusades to advocate for the urgent ratification of the bills to ensure their immediate implementation.

“However some Members of Parliament have problems with some provisions and unless lobbying is intensified, the bills would lapse after December 2012.”

The seminar organised by the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Ghana Alumnae Incorporated, in collaboration with Ghana Bar Association’s Women and Minors Rights Committee and African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) was to provide further sensitisation on the two bills and collate their imputes to be forwarded to Parliament to accelerate passage of the bills.

Mrs Minkah-Premo noted that the bills were laid in Parliament in the last quarter of 2009 and were yet to be passed into law, adding “The Intestate Succession Law has just gone through the second reading and is at the consideration state, however report from the Committee reviewing the Property Rights of Spouses Bill is still not ready for the second reading in Parliament”.

She argued that the property rights of spouses in Ghana had been problematic for a long time, stressing that the country’s plural legal system, and the laws on marriage which were regulated by customary, Islamic and statute, put females in general at the losing end during sharing of properties.

Mrs Minkah-Premo explained that the new bills sought to establish rules and workable standards for the courts and spouses, for the realisation of provisions of the Constitution on spousal property rights.

“Therefore, it is purposely enacted to regulate rights of spouses in accordance with article 22 of the 1992 Constitution, requires spouses to have equal access to property jointly acquired during marriage, and for such property to be equitably distributed between the spouses upon dissolution of the marriage,” she said.

Mrs Minkah-Premo stressed that ratification of the bill would not only bring social stability and equality, but help remove anomalies relating to intestate succession in the country’s laws and provide a uniform intestate succession law that would be applied throughout Ghana, irrespective of the inheritance system of the intestate, and the type of marriage contracted.

The laws when enacted would adequately cater for all the discrepancies and limitations associated with the 1985 PNDC Law 111 that deals with intestate succession in the country.

Ms Edna Kuma, Executive Director, AWLA, said the women organisations with assistance from the Star Programme, a multi-donor facility for supporting advocacy work by civil society, had held seminars and workshops with stakeholders to advocate for the passage of the two bills.

She, therefore, emphasized the need for all stakeholders, particularly, the media, to join the crusade in seeking the immediate passage of the bills.

Source: GNA

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