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The personal and family code needs to be reviewed, according to specialists

ByWebmaster

Mar 14, 2024

BUJUMBURA March 13th (ABP) – The University of Burundi organized a conference-debate, Monday March 11, 2024, at the Mutanga campus, under the theme: “Establishing the paternity of an illegitimate child in Burundi, advocacy for respect for the rights of women and children.

That conference was organized as part of one of the three missions of the said university which consists of providing service to the community, and the Burundi Women’s Rights Awareness and Protection (WRAP) project.

On the sidelines of that conference, Dr. Pacifique Niyonizeye, head of the law department at the University of Burundi and coordinator of the WRAP project, indicated that that debate was organized following the decisions recently taken by certain authorities to refuse the registration of children who have not been recognized by their fathers, and the denial of free birth care to women and girls whose pregnancies have been denied.

He explained that those decisions override the law governing the registration of children and that governing individuals and families.

Dr. Niyonizeye explains that refusing to register a child can cause them to lose their fundamental rights such as access to medical care, access to education and especially the right to nationality.

The woman, for her part, sometimes suffers physical threats to denounce the father of the child, which also goes against her rights.

He further indicated that that conference-debate aims to make known what the law says on those cases. Reason why different institutions affected by those decisions were invited to that conference debate, he said.

He further called on the population to know their rights, and to the authorities that no one is supposed to be beyond the law because, according to him, no other decision in any area should be taken without taking into account of what the law says on the subject.

During his presentation, the law expert, Alexis Manirakiza demonstrated the difficulties encountered by the illegitimate child, where he first explained that the illegitimate child is a child born to unmarried parents, unlike the legitimate child who is the child of married parents.

He further indicated that the rights of illegitimate children in Burundi are violated, taking the example of establishing paternity. He explains that to establish the paternity of a natural child two possibilities are provided including recognition where the father recognizes his child, and the search for paternity where the child searches for his father, once having reached the age of 22.

Expert Manirakiza said that there are parents who refuse to recognize their children, and that in that case, the search for paternity is difficult for most of the children since, according to him, the conditions are very strict.

He further showed that the time limits for bringing the action are also limited, and therefore many illegitimate children will have unknown fathers, while having an unknown father result in the violation of certain rights for children, including in particular that allowing the child to know his father, to be registered in the civil registry. The latter has other consequences on the enjoyment of other rights such as the right to health and the right to education.

According to him, “the law provides that every child has the right to be registered, whether it is the natural child of an unknown father or the legitimate child. Registering a child who is born is an obligation,” he recalled.

Regarding women, the expert indicated that the violated right is the right to seek treatment, but every woman has the right to seek treatment, whether she is married or not. The law which governs free childbirth in Burundi makes no distinction, he stressed.

To deal with the problem of illegitimate children denied by their fathers, the expert Manirakiza indicates that the DNA test would be a solution to facilitate the establishment of paternity because, according to him, it is a scientific test which has a high degree of a scientific nature. However, that test is very expensive, according to him, hence we should look for ways to subsidize it so that it is accessible to everyone.