The Ministere Public, also referred to as the Parquet, is a common institution to the Civil and Criminal jurisdictions.
As regards Civil law, its mission is to ensure that laws which lead to the good administration of Justice are applied and that Law and Order is upheld.
2. Areas of intervention
The Ministere Public intervenes in cases specifically provided for by law or upon its assistance being requested by the Courts.
The areas of intervention of the Ministere Public are:
a) Certificate of Morality (Certificat de Moralite)
b) Change of Name
c) Rectification of Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate
d) Nullity of Marriage
e) Loss of Parental Authority (Decheance de l'Autorite Parentale)
f) Action for Affiliation (Recherche de la Paternite)
h) Protection of Minor's Rights
i) Absence, Non-Presence and Disappearance (Disparition)
k) Curatorship (Curatelle).
3. Change of Name
5. Nullity of Marriage
The Ministere Public can intervene in the following specific circumstances:
a) Whenever a Minor has contracted marriage (Art 144 Code Civil)
b) Whenever a Minor aged 16 or above has contracted marriage without the express consent of his/her parents or that of the one exercising exclusive parental authority (Arts 145-146 Code Civil)
c) Whenever there was no consent (Art 149 Code Civil)
d) Whenever there is a second marriage without the first one having been dissolved (Art 150 Code Civil)
e) Whenever there is a marriage within the prohibited degrees of relationship (Arts 150-153 Code Civil)
f) Whenever the procedures have not been respected at the marriage ceremony (Art 189 Code Civil)
g) Whenever the celebration of a marriage has been procured by criminal means and either or both of the spouses have passed away without this fraud having been discovered, the Ministere Public can intervene in order for the marriage to be declared valid (Art 195 Code Civil)
h) In relation to (g) above, whenever the Public Officer has passed away at the time the fraud is discovered, the Ministere Public will enter a Civil action against his heirs, in presence of the interested parties and on their denunciation (Art 196 Code Civil).
6. Loss of Parental Authority (Decheance de l'Autorite Parentale)
The Ministere Public can intervene in the following circumstances:
a) Whenever a Father and/or Mother is/are found guilty, either as author, co-author or accomplice, of a crime or misdemeanour, committed upon their child (Art 375 Code Civil)
b) Or whenever they are found guilty, as co-author or accomplice, of a crime or misdemeanour committed by their child (Art 375 Code Civil)
c) Apart from any criminal conviction, whenever either through ill-treatment, pernicious examples of habitual intoxication, notorious misconduct or delinquency, or through lack of care or lack of direction, which are such as to manifestly endanger the child's security, health and morality (Art 376 Code Civil).
7. Action for Affiliation (Recherche de la Paternite)
Art 340 Code Civil
In general, where the Court or any Judge certifies by writing that the attendance in Court of the Ministère Public, (as represented by a law officer), is essential to the proper administration of justice, the Attorney General or any other law officer duly authorised by him may appear as party to the case and give his conclusions thereon.
This is commonly done in cases where the civil status of any person or the guardianship of a minor is concerned. Adoption cases fall in this category.
When a matter relating to an Adoption is referred to it, the Ministère Public has to satisfy itself that all the conditions is in the best interests of the Code Civil are respected and that the adoption is in the best interests of the child. factors such as age and consent are taken into account before the conclusions are reached. The overriding principle is the well-being of the child sought to be adopted.
By virtue of Article 354 of the Code Civil too, the Ministère Public may appeal from a decision of the Judge in Chambers regarding an adoption.
9. Protection of Minor's Rights
Whenever a Minor's rights are involved, the Ministere Public intervenes in order to ensure that the decision which is taken is in the Minor's interests, and therefore protects the Minor's rights.
The areas which require the intervention of the Ministere Public are:
a) Division in Kind
b) Sale of a Property belonging to the Minor solely or jointly with adults
c) Whenever there is loss of Parental Authority
10. Absence, Non-Presence and Disappearance (Disparition)
The Ministere Public intervenes in order to protect the interests of those who are not physically present to look after their own interests.
a) Absence: a person is said to be absent whenever he/she has stopped appearing at his/her place of residence or home, and no one has heard from him/her, therefore making his/her existence uncertain. Death of the person is in this case possible, but not certain.
b) Non-presence: this occurs whenever a person is not at his/her domicile nor at his residence, but there are valid reasons to believe that he/she is alive and well
c) Disappearance (Disparition): this is an aggravation of the absence, and supposes not only the uncertainty of a person/s existence, but also and more importantly, the probability of his/her death, which remains uncertain.
By article 776 of the Civil Code, a succession opening to a minor or a "majeur en tutelle" can only be accepted or renounced in conformity with the Civil Code under "de le minorité, de la tutelle et de l'emancipation par marriage". It cannot be made unless precededby the authorization of a family council.
12. Curatorship (Curatelle)