Rwanda[1]

Last Edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

In 2001, Rwanda passed specific legislation that protects the rights of the child to be heard in judicial proceedings.  The country has established procedures by which the state may, for the best interests of the child, deprive the parent either temporarily or permanently of his or her authority.[2]  Law No. 27/2001 Relating to Rights and Protection of the Child Against Violence mandates that before any decision can be made in regard to a child in an administrative or judiciary proceeding, it is necessary to hear from the child, either directly or indirectly through a representative.

 

Rwanda ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in January of 1990, and submitted its first report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in September of 1992.   The country submitted its second report to the committee in June of 2002.  The long delay was explained by the tragic genocide the country experienced in 1994.  Rwanda also ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACC) in April 1992.

 

Rwanda adopted a new constitution in 1995 and again in 2003.  The 2003 Constitution,[3] which was adopted after two years of deliberation, was an attempt at more democracy while avoiding future genocide.

 

Despite the country’s best efforts, children in Rwanda face extreme challenges, many of which can be traced to the 1994 genocide that claimed the life of more than 800,000 individuals.  Those children that did survive were often physically and emotionally scarred.  The tragedy left more than 95,000 orphaned children.  AIDS has also ravaged the country, causing more than 264,000 children to lose one or both parents.  Thus, the government finds itself with tens of thousands of children without parents.  In fact, Rwanda is home to one of the highest proportions of child-headed households, with an estimated 101,000 children living in 42,000 households.[4]

 

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find a contact person for this jurisdiction.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)[5]

Statutes

Law No. 27/2001 of 28/04/2001 Relating to Rights and Protection of the Child Against Violence:[6]

 

Article 9:  The child's interests must be taken into account before any decision concerning him/her is made.  It is right for a child to express his/her opinion on any matter regarding him/her.  It is necessary to hear from the child prior to making any decision concerning him/her regarding administrative and judiciary matters whether directly or indirectly through his/her representative.

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child[7]

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Regional Agreements

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[8]


 

Article 4. Best Interests of the Child

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, and opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7. Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Orphans of Rwanda

 

http://www.orphansofrwanda.org/

 

UNICEF

 

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/rwanda_genocide.html

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, CRC/C/70Add.22 (June 27, 2002), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/4ae60c3b4838628bc1256e2f005b5c60/$FILE/G0344331.pdf, and also as .pdf Document.

[3] Constitution de la République du Rwanda, available at http://droit.francophonie.org/doc/html/rw/con/fr/2003/2003dfrwcofr1.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

3 Press Release, UNICEF, Ten Years After Genocide, Rwandan Children Suffer Lasting Impact (April 6, 2004), available at http://www.unicefusa.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=duLRI8O0H&b=33260&content_id={D49072C6-A212-41CD-8264-486C0DD999E4}, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] The order of authority between these sources of law is unclear.

[6] Relating to Rights and Protection of the Child Against Violence, Law No. 27 of 2001 (Rwanda).

[7] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[8]African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990), entered into force Nov. 29, 1999, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.