Countries member states of Commonwealth should contribute to the eradication of early and forced marriage

Rwanda, through the National Commission for Human Rights in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, is hosting the working session of the Forum of Commonwealth National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) on Early and forced marriage and sexual violence in conflict.   

The Forum of Commonwealth NHRIs regroups National Human Rights Institutions from the Commonwealth countries member states from Asia, America, Africa, Europe, Pacific and Caribbean. The topic of discussion this year is "Early Marriage and Sexual violence in conflict". It is needed to discuss on this issue in the time the world most particularly Africa is facing conflicts in which human life continue to suffer, particularly women and children.

The objective of that working session is in line with the capacity building of members of Commonwealth National Human Rights Institutions, and it is an occasion for participants to share achievements, best practices regarding the promotion and the protection of human rights in general and in the areas of Early and Forced Marriage and sexual violence in conflict in particular.

Rwanda had a privilege and honor to host that seminar by recognizing its commendable effort in the promotion and protection for human rights in general and women’s rights in particular, and to share experiences and best practices with other Countries from the Commonwealth.

Moreover, the meeting will highlight the role Commonwealth institutions can play in their respective countries, especially the role NHRIs as independent bodies play in the promotion and the protection of human rights.

In his remarks opening the session, the Minister Of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Johnston Busingye, on behalf of the Right Honorable Prime Minister, Anastase MUREKEZI, said that nations’ efforts to prevent and eradicate child, early and forced marriage are gaining momentum at the national, regional and international levels. He added that early and forced marriage is a harmful practice that violates, abuses, or impairs human rights and that it has had a negative impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. He wished the working session would be a good opportunity to assess whether the implementation of taken decisions in previous sessions had yielded expected results. As an example for best practice of protection and promotion of human rights in Rwanda, the Minister stated the Article 28 of the June 2003 Rwandan Constitution as amended to date, that states the following: “Every child is entitled to special measures of protection by his or her family, society and the State that are necessary, depending on the status of the child, under national and international law”.

He mentioned also the promulgation of the Family Law that fixes the age of marriage to 21 years, the Rwandan Penal Code prescribes punishment to anyone convicted of offenses in line with Early or Forced Marriage, the Rwandan Penal Code that prescribes punishment to anyone convicted of offenses in line with Early or Forced Marriage, the establishment of institutions that have built synergies for the promotion of children’s rights and the fight against Child, Early and Forced Marriage amongst others such as Ministry in charge of Gender and Family Promotion, the National Commission for Human Rights, the National Commission for Children, the Gender Monitoring Office, the National Women Council and the National Youth Council. The Minister Of Justice reiterated the role of National Human Rights Institutions in promotion and protection of human rights in general, and especially its preventive, advocacy and advisory role towards the child, early and forced marriage. He concluded by encouraging all Commonwealth Human Rights Institutions to fully collaborate and give their concrete and effective contributions to the eradication of the child, early and forced marriage.
This session was held in Kigali at Grand Legacy Hotel from 5th to 7th May 2015 and brought together more than fifty participants from countries member states of Commonwealth.

Ndatuwera Jean Claude