28.06.2005 General News

Family heads cautioned

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Mamfe-Akuapem, (E/R) June 28, GNA - Mr Charles Habiah, the Programmes Officer of the Federation of International Lawyers (FIDA), has advised people presiding over family properties to be cautious with how they manage them because they did not acquire such properties.

He said by law, properties developed on family lands could not be willed out as inheritance to a surviving spouse or children. Mr Habiah said depending on the terms on which a family property was entrusted in the care of someone, whatever development was made on the property belonged to the family because it was not a self-acquired property.

He was speaking at a forum on marriage rights and succession laws organized by the Akuapem North District Paralegal Associations on Sunday at Mamfe.

Mr Habiah said the ownership of family properties had degenerated into a lot of litigations over the years and needed to be addressed by enlightening the public on the provisions of the law with regard to marriages and successions.

On marriage rights, he said customary marriages are legally recognized as ordinance marriages and weddings "provided the customary marriage procedure is followed to the letter'' and that not all marriage "blessings" are legally binding on the man or woman. He said any marriage under the age of 18 years by both sexes is not legally recognized and appealed to young women to ensure that the proper marriage procedure was followed to prevent any legal implications when tragedy strikes.

Dr Eugenia Danquah-Quist, the Acting Akuapem North District Chief Executive, said the Domestic Violence Bill on marital rape should be reviewed to suit the definition of marriage in the traditional set-up. She argued that men are the breadwinners in most homes therefore it would be difficult for women to report their husbands who provided for them to be dealt with under the marital rape law. Nana Ansah Sasraku, the Mamfehene, said most children of the area felt peeved as a result of the treatment meted out to them with regards to ownership of properties left behind by their parents when they were young and pledged his support for the paralegals to check those anomalies.

He said succession laws had brought divisions in most families in the town and appealed for a similar forum to be organized for the traditional council and all heads of families in the area to help bring sanity in the sharing of properties.

Nana Ansah Sasraku said a judicial committee involving members of the paralegal association would be formed in the area to address matters arising from succession and property rights.

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