LAWA-Ghana Alumnae Incorporated (LAWA-Ghana) in collaboration with African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), both non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has organised a pre-legislation regional stakeholder’s consultation on the Property Rights of Spouses Bill and the Intestate Succession Bill in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Regional Capital.
The two-day consultative workshop which formed part of a nationwide consultation on the two bills supported by the German Development Corporation (GTZ) was to sensitise stakeholders and to seek their views and support before the passage of the two bills into laws.
The workshop was attended by participants from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s (A-G’s) Department that prepared the two bills, stakeholders from other ministries, department and agencies, civil society groups including religious groups, traditional authorities, and personnel of the security agencies among others.
Mrs Barbara Ayesu, the Coordinator of LAWA-Ghana in her address said the meeting was aimed at informing key stakeholders of the advocacy plan on the two bills and to seek their input and support.
She said with respect to the Property Rights of Spousal Bill, the 1992 Constitution of Ghana that came into force on January 7, 1993, recognised the property rights of spouses as a fundamental human right and placed the obligation on Parliament under Article 22 to enact legislation to regulate property rights of spouses.
Mrs Ayesu added that it was also to ensure that spouses have equal access to property jointly acquired during marriage and for equitable distribution of same between the spouses upon the termination of marriage and other related matters.
“So in accordance with national and international obligations the Attorney General’s Department has prepared the Bill titled, Property Rights of Spouses Bill for enactment by Parliament to ensure certainty in matters connected with the Property Rights of Spouses, fairness in determining matters that relate to the property rights of spouses and clarity in law for effective implementation,” she observed.
On the Intestate Succession, the LAWA-Ghana Coordinator said it had been a problem in Ghana. This she noted was largely due to the plural legal system and family law that had led to several years of tension between the nuclear family and the traditional family unit, because the customary law provides very little protection for the nuclear family.
Mrs Ayesu observed that despite the passage of the Intestate Succession law, 1985 (PNDC Law 111), which was an innovation and was accepted mostly by spouses and children who were often victims of ejection and other forms of persecution when the breadwinner of the family, usually when a husband died intestate women continue to be discriminated against in the distribution of property after the death of their spouses.
She said the law having been passed 23 years ago, has over the time faced difficulties in its implementation and the gaps in the law have become more apparent due to the increasing importance of the nuclear family and therefore the purpose for which it was passed is fast eroding, saying it is evident that the present law does not cater for a number of important issues that arise when spouses die intestate.