From 1st July 2018 to 30th June 2019, a total of 198 men sought DNA paternity tests to determine the biological fatherhood of children.
These statistics highlight a nearly four-fold increase in demand for DNA paternity tests in Rwanda.
Typically, forensic laboratories employ DNA tests to determine the circumstances surrounding a crime or investigate family patterns. DNA tests can be conducted for the sake of justice or upon an individual’s request.
In addition to the RFL, other institutions such as the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), the army, the directorate of immigration and emigration, or the national identity agency can request DNA tests for specific reasons. The accuracy rate of DNA tests in ascertaining biological relationships is said to be 99.99%.
One of the reasons behind the surge in men seeking DNA test services is attributed to the mobilization efforts carried out by the RFL to raise awareness and encourage Rwandans to utilize their services, including DNA tests.
However, it is essential to note that DNA paternity tests can only be conducted with the consent of both the father and mother.
In Rwanda, an individual who wishes to undergo DNA testing without urgency is required to pay Rwf89,010, and the results are typically released within seven days. Consequently, the test for both the father and child to determine paternity costs Rwf178,020.
For those seeking expedited results within 24 hours, the cost rises to Rwf285,290, with Rwf142,645 allocated to the father’s test and the same amount for the child.
Despite the increasing demand for DNA paternity tests, concerns have been raised by children’s rights activists regarding the potential risks to the children involved, especially when negative results are disclosed.
Evariste Murwanashyaka, the head of programs at CLADHO (an umbrella organization of human rights organizations in Rwanda aimed at defending, protecting, and promoting human rights and social justice) and National Child Rights Observer, emphasizes the importance of considering children’s rights and avoiding any harm to their well-being.
In the event of negative results, he advises that decisions should be made with the best interests of the children in mind, ensuring they receive appropriate protection.
Murwanashyaka emphasizes the need to avoid humiliating children, and if divorce becomes the preferred option, it should be pursued through a legal process that minimizes any negative impact on the children.
He cautions against men who receive negative DNA paternity test results from divulging the information on social media, posting pictures of the child, disclosing it to society, or subjecting the child to oppression.
Similar concerns have been observed in countries like Uganda, where men who receive negative results have been known to abandon their responsibilities towards the child. The police in Uganda have warned against leaking the identification of the child, as it can potentially destabilize them.