Responses to Information Requests

Responses to Information Requests (RIR) are research reports on country conditions. They are requested by IRB decision makers.

The database contains a seven-year archive of English and French RIR. Earlier RIR may be found on the UNHCR's Refworld website.

Please note that some RIR have attachments which are not electronically accessible here. To obtain a copy of an attachment, please e-mail us.

Related Links

25 February 2019

RWA106265.FE

Rwanda: Whether it is mandatory for the name of a person married to a Rwandan citizen to be published in the official gazette before he or she can obtain a Rwandan passport and a certificate of naturalization (2000-2019)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview

Information on whether it is mandatory for the name of a person married to a Rwandan citizen to be published in the official gazette before he or she can obtain a Rwandan passport and a certificate of naturalization was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to a study on citizenship in the countries of East Africa, commissioned by the UNHCR and written by Dr. Bronwen Manby, Senior Policy Fellow and teacher at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), specializing in nationality law and statelessness (LSE n.d.), Rwanda is a civil law country where naturalization is generally granted by presidential or ministerial order, which must be published in the official gazette (Manby Sept. 2018, 35). The study notes that in East African countries, like Rwanda, vetting procedures for naturalization are “extremely stringent” (Manby Sept. 2018, 35). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, Dr. Manby stated that the acquisition of Rwandan nationality by an adult person, whether by marriage or by naturalization on the basis of residence criteria, takes effect following publication in the official gazette (Manby 20 Feb. 2019). However, according to the same source, in practice, obtaining Rwandan citizenship in these ways is not common (Manby 20 Feb. 2019). Thus, in her study, Dr. Manby indicates that between 2015 and 2017, only one naturalization decree (for 71 people) was published in the official gazette, in July 2016 (Manby Sept. 2018, 35). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. The Law in Effect Before 2004

Dr. Manby reported that, before 2004, issues relating to naturalization and acquisition of citizenship were governed by the Law of 28 September 1963 on the Rwandan Nationality Code (Loi du 28 septembre 1963 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise) (Manby 21 Feb. 2019a). According to Dr. Manby, under this law, men marrying women of Rwandan nationality had to be naturalized like any other foreign national, unlike foreign women, who could acquire Rwandan nationality automatically upon civil (registered) marriage with a man of Rwandan nationality (Manby 21 Feb. 2019a). Article 7 of the law provides the following:

[translation]

A foreign woman who marries a Rwandan acquires Rwandan nationality at the time of the celebration of the marriage, subject to the Government’s prerogative to object to it within a period of one year. However, this can result only from a marriage that has been registered with the Rwandan civil registry office.

However, if the law of the jurisdiction to which she is personally subject allows the foreign woman to retain her nationality, she has the option, prior to the celebration of the marriage, of declining Rwandan nationality.

If the marriage is celebrated in Rwanda, this option must be exercised before the court of first instance within whose jurisdiction the marriage is to be celebrated. If the marriage is celebrated abroad, the option must be exercised in the presence of the Rwandan diplomatic authorities empowered for this purpose.

The authorities referred to above must immediately notify the Minister responsible for civil status.

In the event of an objection by the Government, the foreign woman is deemed never to have acquired Rwandan nationality. (Rwanda 1963)

For further information on the requirements and procedures for acquiring Rwandan citizenship through naturalization (according to the Law of 28 September 1963 on the Rwandan Nationality Code), see title II, chapter III of that law, which is attached to this Response (Attachment 1).

3. Law of 2004

Dr. Manby indicated that, in 2004, the Organic Law No. 29/2004 of 03/12/2004 on Rwandan Nationality Code (Loi organique numéro 29/2004 du 03/12/2004 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise) came into force (Manby 21 Feb. 2019b). Title III, chapter I of that law establishes the following:

[Rwanda English version]

Article 9: A foreigner or stateless person married to a Rwandan after two (2) years from the date of civil marriage celebration, can acquire the Rwandan nationality upon his or her request made before the Registrar of civil status in accordance with procedure determined by the order of the Minister having civil status in his or her attributions and should have continued to stay together with his or her spause [sic] until the day of his or her request. The marriage however, can not [sic] grant one nationality if not found recorded in a Rwandan Registry of civil status.

The Government of Rwanda can within a period of one year from the day the request of Rwandan nationality was accepted, reject the alien or stateless person married to a Rwandan from acquiring the Rwandan nationality if it deems it unworthy.

When the Rwandan Government rejects to grant the foreigner a Rwandan nationality, he or she is considered to have never acquired it. However, such deeds made within the time of the request and the rejection by the Rwandan Government can not [sic] be invalid for the reason that he or she could not acquire the Rwandan nationality.

Dissolution of marriage after acquisition of Rwanda nationality cannot have adverse effects on the Nationality acquired by the spouse and his or her children in good faith.

Article 10: A foreigner or a stateless person married to a Rwandan acquires Rwandan Nationality from the day the Registrar of civil status registers him or her in a relevant register as a Rwandan in accordance with provisions of article 9 of this Organic law. (Rwanda 2004)

Article 14 of the same law, dealing with acquisition of Rwandan citizenship through naturalization, provides that [Rwanda English version] “Rwandan nationality is granted through an order of the Minister having civil status in his or her attributions and published in the [o]fficial Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda” (Rwanda 2004).

For further information regarding the procedures for acquiring and declaring Rwandan nationality in accordance with the Organic Law No. 29/2004 of 03/12/2004, see Ministerial Order No. 74/11 of 31/08/2005 Determining the Procedure of Acquisition and Declaration of the Rwandan Nationality attached to this Response (Attachment 2).

4. Law of 2008

In 2008, the law of 2004 was replaced by the Organic Law No. 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality (Loi organique no 30/2008 du 25/07/2008 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise) (Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative n.d.a). Sources indicate that Rwandan nationality is currently governed by the law of 2008 (Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative n.d.b; Manby Sept. 2018, 93). Dr. Manby’s study notes that under article 11 of the law, it is possible to apply to acquire naturalization by marriage after three years of marriage; the study notes that the procedure is not automatic, and the “[l]evel of discretion” is described as “[o]n application may acquire” (Manby Sept. 2018, 14). According to the same source, both men and women can pass nationality to their spouse by marriage (Manby Sept. 2018, 14). Article 11 of the law of 2008, concerning marriage with a Rwandan citizen, provides the following:

[Rwanda English version]

Any foreigner or stateless person married to a Rwandan may acquire Rwandan nationality after three (3) years from the date of marriage upon application to the Director General and provided that he/she has continued living with his/her spouse until the date of the application. Modalities for application and acquisition are determined by a Presidential Order. Marriage however cannot guarantee Rwandan nationality if it has not been registered in a Rwandan Registry of civil status. (Rwanda 2008)

Regarding acquisition of Rwandan citizenship by naturalization, the law of 2008 establishes the following:

[Rwanda English version]

Article 13: Naturalization

Rwandan nationality by naturalization shall be applied for to and granted by the Director General. Modalities for applying for and being granted the Rwandan nationality shall be determined by Presidential Order. (Rwanda 2008)

Regarding certificates of nationality, the law of 2008 establishes the following:

[Rwanda English version]

Article 35: Oath, certificate and publication

Upon being granted Rwandan nationality, a foreigner or a stateless person who has acquired Rwandan nationality shall take an oath as follows:

“I, ………………………, do solemnly swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Rwanda and that I will pay respect to the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda and other laws. So help me God.”

Once a person has been issued with a certificate of nationality, he or she shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda. The competent organ to administer oath, certificate of nationality format and relevant modalities shall be provided for by a Presidential Order. (Rwanda 2008)

Presidential Order No. 21/01 of 27/05/2009 Establishing the Procedure for the Application and Acquisition of Rwandan Nationality (Arrêté présidentiel fixant la procédure de demande et d’acquisition de la nationalité rwandaise no 21/01 du 27/05/2009) establishes the procedures for granting nationality on the basis of birth in Rwanda, residence criteria or Rwandan background (Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative n.d.c). According to this presidential order, among the [Rwanda English version] “common provisions in granting nationality,” the following is indicated regarding publication in the official gazette:

[Rwanda English version]

Article 27: Certificate of nationality

The certificate of nationality shall be issued after the applicant for nationality has taken oath. …

Article 28: Publication of the granting of nationality

The granting of nationality shall become effective only after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda (Rwanda 2009).

5. Passports

Specific information on whether it is mandatory for the name of a person married to a Rwandan citizen to be published in the official gazette before he or she can obtain a Rwandan passport could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Law No. 17/99 of 1999 on Immigration and Emigration (La loi no 17/99 de 1999 sur l'immigration et émigration au Rwanda) provides information on Rwandan passports and is attached to this Response (Attachment 3). According to article 40 of the law, “[a] Rwandan who wants to go out of the Republic of Rwanda must be in possession of a passport or another document replacing the passport” (Rwanda 1999). Article 24 of Law No. 04/2011 du 21/03/2011 on Immigration and Emigration in Rwanda [which replaces Law No. 17/99 of 1999 on Immigration and Emigration (Manby 21 Feb. 2019b)] establishes that the ordinary passport [Rwanda English version] “is issued to any Rwandan citizen who meets the requirements” (Rwanda 2011).

The requirements and procedures for applying for a passport are available on the website of the High Commission for Rwanda in Ottawa and are attached to this Response (Attachment 4). The form to be completed to apply for a passport, available in English and French on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Rwanda in London, is also attached to this Response (Attachment 5).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative. N.d.a. “Organic Law No. 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 Relating to Rwandan Nationality.” [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative. N.d.b. “Rwanda.” [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative. N.d.c. “Rwanda: Presidential Order No.21/01 of 27/05/2009 Establishing the Procedure for the Application and Acquisition of Rwandan Nationality.” [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). N.d. “Bronwen Manby.” [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019]

Manby, Bronwen. 21 February 2019a. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Manby, Bronwen. 21 February 2019b. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Manby, Bronwen. 20 February 2019. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Manby, Bronwen. September 2018. Statelessness and Citizenship in the East African Community. Study commissioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Rwanda. 2011. Loi no 04/2011 du 21/03/2011 sur l’immigration et émigration au Rwanda. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Rwanda. 2009. Arrêté présidentiel fixant la procédure de demande et d’acquisition de la nationalité rwandaise no 21/01 du 27/05/2009. Journal officiel de la République du Rwanda, Year 48, special no. of 28 May 2009. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Rwanda. 2008. Loi organique no 30/2008 du 25/07/2008 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Rwanda. 2004. Loi organique no 29/2004 du 03/12/2004 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Rwanda. 1999. Law No. 17/99 of 1999 on Immigration and Emigration. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Rwanda. 1963 (amended in 1977). Loi du 28 septembre 1963 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Rwanda – High Commission in Ottawa; The Legal Aid Forum.

Internet sites, including: AllAfrica; Australia – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; The East African; ecoi.net; EU – European Asylum Support Office; Factiva; The New Times; Rwanda – Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, Irembo; Rwanda News Agency; US – Department of State.

Attachments

  1. Rwanda. 1963 (amended 1977). Loi du 28 septembre 1963 portant Code de la nationalité rwandaise. [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019]
  2. Rwanda. 2005. Ministerial Order No. 74/11 of 31/08/2005 Determining the Procedure of Acquisition and Declaration of the Rwandan Nationality. [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019]
  3. Rwanda. 1999. Law No. 17/99 of 1999 on Immigration and Emigration. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]
  4. Rwanda. N.d. Rwandan High Commission in Ottawa. “New/Renew Passport Requirements.” [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019]
  5. Rwanda. N.d. Rwandan High Commission in London. “Application for Travel Document” [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019]