According to article 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda, the country has four national symbols. They include the National flag, the Motto of the Republic, the Seal of the Republic and the National Anthem.
Symbols are important because they represent the history, culture, values and dreams of a nation. As such, they have to be treated with utmost respect. Anyone who disrespects the national symbols is punishable according to the Penal Code of Rwanda.
Article 532 of the Penal Code says: “Any person who, publicly and intentionally, contempts, despises, removes, destroys or desecrates the national flag or official emblems of the sovereignty of the Republic of Rwanda, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and a fine of two hundred thousand (200,000) to one million (1,000,000) Rwandan francs, or one of these penalties.”
One way to despise or desecrate the national flag is through making unlawful use of it, for example, putting it on the ground and sitting on it. Unlawful use of the national flag attracts punishment as par article 533 of the Penal Code. The minimum punishment for the crime is a term of imprisonment for one month and/or a minimum fine of one hundred thousand Rwandan francs.
Another way to disrespect the flag, as defined by article 534 of the Penal Code, is by using another flag, while pretending that it is the national flag. The punishment for doing that, according to article 534 is “a term of imprisonment of one (1) year to two (2) years and a fine of two hundred thousand (200,000) to five hundred thousand (500,000) Rwandan francs or one of these penalties.”
For disrespecting the national anthem, a person who is found guilty goes to prison for six months minimum and/or pays minimum fine of two hundred thousand Rwandan francs. This is according to article 535 of the Penal Code.
Changing the text or notes of the National Anthem is also highly frowned upon and in that regard, article 536 of the Penal Code states: “Any person who intentionally changes text or notes of the National Anthem shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and a fine of two hundred thousand (200,000) to one million (1,000,000) Rwandan francs or one of these penalties.”
If someone sings another song while pretending that it is the National Anthem, their actions are against the law and punishable according to article 537 of the Penal Code. They are liable to a jail term of one to two years and/or a fine of five hundred thousand to two million Rwandan francs.