Irene Githinji and Mercy Mwai @PeopleDailyKe
The proposed amendments to the Marriage Act, 2014, seeks to ensure that only qualified church ministers with a good track record officiate marriage ceremonies.
To ensure compliance, anyone applying for a licence to officiate a marriage will be required to produce a certificate of good conduct from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
In addition, the minister will be required to submit a copy of registration certificate of the place of worship, membership certificate from the church and a letter of recommendation from the relevant umbrella religious society.
Further, the minister will be required to submit a letter of recommendation signed by a church official from the place of worship where the minister serves, provide an original and copy of theological certificate from a registered and accredited theological institution, an ordination certificate for at least two months and demonstration of an understanding of the marriage certificate.
The ministers will also be required to sign a code of conduct before applying for the licence as well as provide for a procedure for revocation and suspension of a licence under specified circumstances.
The officiating minister of a Christian marriage will be required to return the marriage certificate within 60 days failure to which they will attract a penalty of Sh1,000.
The new requirements are departure from the current law which provided that the officiating minister returns the certificate within 14 days. “Failure to return a certificate within 60 days will attract a penalty of Sh1,000,” the proposed changes read.
If the proposed amendments are passed, couples not living in Kenya and would want to solemnise their union will be required to stay in the country for at least seven days before applying for a special licence.
The special licence will only be given where one of the parties is in imminent danger of death, where one is old and sickly, and in cases where one party will be allowed to appear in special circumstances. “Legal requirement on issuance of special licence will require introduction of a seven days minimum mandatory stay in Kenya before applying for a special licence,” read the proposed amendments.