The National Flag is one of the symbols of the Republic of Rwanda. It comprises the green stripe which represents the hope of prosperity, the yellow stripe symbolising economic development, the blue stripe which stands for happiness and peace, while the sun and its rays represent enlightenment.
An important part of the country’s identity, the flag ought to be treated and handled with respect. Law N° 06/2013 of 27/02/2013 Modifying and Complementing Law N° 34/2008 of 08/08/2008 on Characteristics, Description, Ceremonial and Respect of the National Flag was established for this reason.
Article 4 of the Law says that the flag is Government property but Rwandans, foreigners, non-government organisations, companies and cooperatives having legal personality have the right to possess it in compliance with the law. Such persons also have the right to make, possess and use any items resembling the National Flag in a manner that does not violate the National Flag.
The National Flag is a ceremonial symbol and as such, article 5 of Law N° 06/2013 of 27/02/2013 Modifying and Complementing Law N° 34/2008 of 08/08/2008 on Characteristics, Description, Ceremonial and Respect of the National Flag says that it can be hoisted at administration buildings and other places for official events. It has to be placed in such a way that the mast on which the Flag is hoisted is on the side parallel to the side bearing the symbol of the sun.
Article 7 of Law N° 06/2013 of 27/02/2013 modifies and complements article 10 of Law N° 34/2008 of 08/08/2008 on Characteristics, Description, Ceremonial and Respect of the National Flag on circumstances for lowering the National Flag. In this regard, the flag is only expected to be lowered when it is torn, dirty, worn out, loses its texture colour or when the ceremony for which it was used comes to an end.
Articles 8 and 9 of Law N° 06/2013 of 27/02/2013 modify and complement articles 13 and 14 of Law N° 34/2008 of 08/08/2008 on Characteristics, Description, Ceremonial and Respect of the National Flag by providing details on taking an oath of office before the National Flag and using the flag at burial ceremonies.
To take an oath before the flag, one must hold it with his/her left hand and raise his/her left hand. If someone is unable to raise their hand due to disability, they are made to wear the flag.
For people who are allowed to cover the coffin containing a dead body with the national flag during burial ceremonies, they should ensure that it doesn’t touch the ground and nothing else should be put on top of it. It should be removed before lowering the coffin into the tomb.
Law N°42/2018 of 13/08/2018 Modifying Law N°34/2008 of 08/08/2008 on The Characteristics, Description, Ceremonial and Respect of The National Flag as amended to date prescribes punishment for those who despise, remove, destroy, steal or violate the flag. The minimum term of imprisonment for crimes under this law is one month and the minimum fine is RWF500, 000.