Rwanda passes new nationality law

Published: 1/Sep/2021
Source: Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion

On 16 July, the Organic Law governing Rwandan nationality was passed outlining procedures and requirements for acquisition and application of Rwandan nationality.

The new Organic law No.002/2021 replaces the 2008 Nationality Code and provides for more restrictive rules. It emphasises the concept of ‘Rwandan origin’, also found in the Constitution, by limiting access to Rwandan nationality by ‘origin’ based on Rwandan ancestry, rather than parents’ legal nationality. Further, each individual is required to apply for nationality, which means nobody acquires nationality at birth. Those eligible to apply for Rwandan nationality by origin must be “born to at least one Rwandan parent who is a Rwandan not through acquisition but by virtue of Rwandan ancestry.” This has replaced the previous rule which afforded all children automatic acquisition of Rwandan nationality if either parent was Rwandan and regardless of marital status of parents upon the birth of their child or whether the parents hold their nationality through descent or acquisition. The new 2021 law also allows for a child to apply for nationality by acquisition only if they are found in the territory of unknown parents. This is a break from the previous law which also allowed for the attribution of nationality to children who could not acquire the nationality of one of their parents, and for abandoned infants presumed to both in Rwanda.

Download ISI bulletin for September 2021:

Themes: Acquisition by children, Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Naturalisation and Marriage
Regions: Rwanda
Year: 2021