Brief outline

Introduction to rwandese law

The initiative of laws and the right to amendment are reserved to the Parliament in conjunction with the Cabinet Meeting. The bills of law determined by the plenary session to have a sound basis shall first be transmitted to the relevant committee of the Chamber of Parliament for examination prior to their consideration and adoption in the plenary session (art 92 of the Constitution)

Ordinary laws shall be passed by an absolute majority and organic laws by a majority vote of 3/5.

Hierarchy of laws

  1. The constitutionis the supreme law of the State. Any law, any act which is contrary to this Constitution shall be null and void. (art 200 of the Constitution). It is to date « The Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 4 June 2003 », amended four times to date and the latest time was 17/06/2010.
  2. International treaties and agreements conclusively adopted and published in the official gazette. Upon their publication in the official gazette, international treaties and agreements which have been conclusively adopted in accordance with the provisions of law shall be more binding than organic laws and ordinary laws except in the case of non compliance by one of the parties (art 190 of the Constitution)
  3. Organic law: Organic laws are only those envisaged as such by the Constitution (Art 93 paragraph 7 of the Constitution)
  4. Ordinary law is an order from the Parliament.
  5. Decree is an order from the President of the Republic
  6. Orders are the regulations from administrative authorities.
  7. Customary law: Unwritten customary law shall remain applicable as long as it has not been replaced by written laws, is not inconsistent with the Constitution, laws, orders and regulations, and does not violate human rights, prejudice public security or good morals (Art 201 paragraph 3 of the Constitution)

An Organic Law shall not be inconsistent with the Constitution. Neither shall an Ordinary Law or a Decree- Law be inconsistent with an Organic law nor shall an order or regulation be inconsistent with a law (Art 93 paragraph 8 of the Constitution)



There are hereby established ordinary and specialized courts (art 143 paragraph 1). With the exception of the Supreme Court, ordinary courts may have specialized chambers or branches. The art 143 paragraph 4 of the Constitution provides that an Organic law may establish other courts or remove them.

However, special courts shall not be created (Art 143 paragraph 5 of the Constitution)

Ordinary Courts:

  1. Supreme Court
    2. High Court
    3. Intermediate Courts
    4. Primary Courts



Specialized Courts:

Commercial Courts:

  1. Commercial High Court whose territorial jurisdiction shall be the whole country and shall have the jurisdiction to hear appeals in the first instance from commercial courts. Its seat is located in Nyamirambo/Kigali
    2. Commercial courts are located in Nyarugenge, Huye and Musanze

Military Courts:

  1. High Military Court
    2. Military Court.


Courts function according to the following principles:

  • All the persons subject to the jurisdiction are equal before the law
  • The independence of the judge with regard to other power or authority.
  • The court sits with single judge except in the Supreme Court and Military Courts.
  • The courts give their verdicts according to law.
  • The hearings are held in public except in camera for the purposes of public security or good morals
  • Every court decision shall indicate the grounds on which it is based and shall be delivered in open court