Know your rights: The rights of orphaned children

Every child, no matter their economic or social situation, has the right to protection and care which will allow him/her to be emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy. The care for children in Rwanda and other parts of the world is first and foremost, the responsibility of their parents or guardians.

However, there are children who for one reason or another do not have parents. Such children are the responsibility of the government. For instance, according to article 41 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 law relating to the rights and the protection of the child, the government is responsible for the costs associated with an orphaned child’s health insurance.

The government is also responsible for the insertion of orphaned children into families. For this reason, article 53 paragraph one of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child, says that any family that receives an orphaned child has to report to the local authorities who in turn report to the authority in charge of child placement. This is particularly true for children who have not attained the minimum age required to work.

If a family chooses to foster a child who has been orphaned, they are entrusted with his/her property. If they do not wish to manage the property, article 53 paragraph three of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that the responsibility will be given to a state authority to decide how the property will be managed. 

Some families decide to take the care for an orphaned child one step further than fostering and decide to do adoption. Adoption is great way to give children a sense of stability and belonging. However, caution has to be taken before a person or family decides to adopt a child.

To this end, article 290 of Nº32/2016 of 28/08/2016 the law governing persons and family, says that consent has to be sought if a child is to be adopted from a foster family or an orphanage.

If the child’s parents are both dead or presumed dead, if they disappeared or if they are incapable of giving permission and as a result the child is in a foster family, the foster family has to give consent before a civil register.

If the child lives in an orphanage, then permission for adoption is granted by the head of the orphanage who needs to have authorisation from the civil registrar of the area where the orphanage is located.

According to article 3017 of the law governing persons and family, when a couple decides to adopt a child, he/she is entitled to as much love and care as biological children.


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