As evolved, conscious beings, there are certain things which humans would rather not do in the presence of other people. This results in the need for privacy.
The right to privacy is recognized and protected by several domestic and international laws.
For example, article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
Children’s right to privacy is something that is often taken for granted or presumed to be inexistent but article 10 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) does in fact protect this right.
However, since children are under the protection and authority of their parents, article 10 of the ACRWC adds that “parents or legal guardians shall have the right to exercise reasonable supervision over the conduct of their children.”
This means that you can’t lock yourself up in the bedroom of your parents’ house all day and then scream “violation!” when your mother asks to enter to see what you’re doing. Although it may seem burdensome, the limited privacy given by parents is, for the most, for the child’s protection.
Law N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 relating to the rights and the protection of the child is another statute that protects the child’s right to privacy.
Article 19 of the above-mentioned law says, “Depending on his/her age and level of understanding, any arbitrary interference in the child privacy in order to attack his/her honor and dignity is prohibited.”
This means that there is a certain age below which it is not possible to provide privacy to a child. The degree of privacy correlates with the level of understanding. For example, a one-year-old child has to be watched all the time as failure to do so might result in self-harm.
The Penal Code punishes invasion of privacy which is done through secretly listening to people’s conversations and making them public, and taking audio-visual recordings of people without their permission.
Article 281 of the Penal Code says that a person who commits the crime of invasion of privacy is “liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and a fine of one million (1,000,000) to five million (5,000.000) Rwandan francs or one of these penalties.”