The Judiciary

The Judiciary

The Judiciary of Rwanda is composed of Ordinary and Specialised Courts and is entrusted with the mission of protecting rights and freedom. Governed by The High Council of the Judiciary, Rwanda's Judiciary is independent and exercises financial and administrative autonomy.


Bắn cá rồngThe Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 2003 revised in 2015 entrusts the Judiciary with the mission of protection of rights and freedom. The Judiciary is composed of ordinary Courts and specialized Courts. The High Council of the Judiciary is the Supreme governing organ of the Judiciary. It sets general guidelines governing the organization of the Judiciary. The Judiciary is Independent and exercises financial and administrative autonomy. (See articles 43, 148, 149, 150, 151). 

The principles governing the Judiciary are the following:   

1° Justice is rendered in the name of the people and nobody may be a Judge in his or her own cause;

2° Court proceedings are conducted in public unless the Court determines that proceedings be held in camera in circumstances provided by the law;

3° Every judgment must indicate its basis, be written in its entirety, and delivered in public together with the grounds and the decision taken;

Bắn cá rồng4° Court rulings are binding on all parties concerned the public authorities or individuals. They cannot be challenged except through procedures determined by law;

5° In exercising their judicial functions, judges at all times do it in accordance with the law and are independent from any power or authority.

Organization and Competence of Courts

Article 152 of Rwanda constitution of 2003 as revised in 2015 provides that courts consist of Ordinary and Specialized Courts.

Ordinary Courts are comprised of:

  • The Supreme Court,
  • Court of Appeal,
  • the High Court,
  • Intermediate Courts, and
  • Primary Courts.

Specialized Courts are comprised of Commercial Courts and Military CourtsBắn cá rồng.  An organic law may establish or remove an ordinary or specialized court. 

The courts have two levels of appeal in the following hierarchy from the lower to the highest Court:

Primary Courts 

Bắn cá rồngThere are 41 Primary Courts and they rule over original civil and criminal matters as defined in the law that determines the Organization, functioning and competence of courts.

Intermediate Courts

There are 12 intermediate courts in the country. The Intermediate Courts have both original and appellate jurisdiction in civil, criminal and administrative matters.

High Court 

The High Court is based in the City of Kigali and has five chambers located in Musanze, Nyanza, Rwamagana and Rusizi which have both original and appellate jurisdiction in civil, criminal and administrative matters. The fifth chamber is the specialized chamber dealing with International Crimes.

The commercial courts

Commercial court: Has original Jurisdiction over commercial cases Commercial High Court: Has the appellate jurisdiction over commercial cases Military courts include:

The Military Court

The Military High Court Court of Appeal: The Court of Appeal adjudicates on appeal level cases handled by the High court, the Commercial High Court and the Military High Court in accordance with the relevant laws.

Supreme Court

Bắn cá rồngThe Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. Its territorial Jurisdiction covers the entire territory of the Republic of Rwanda. It has original and appellate Jurisdiction in Civil, Criminal, Commercial and Administrative matters as defined by the law n°30/2018 of 02/06/2018 determining the jurisdiction of courts.

Bắn cá rồngThe Judiciary is under the authority of the High Council of Judiciary which is chaired by the Honourable Chief Justice who is also the President of Supreme Court. Each court is led by a President. The courts are supported with the Administration staff under the Secretary General’s Services.

Bắn cá rồng Chief Justice

Bắn cá rồngDr. Faustin Ntezilyayo

Bắn cá rồngThe Chief Justice of Rwanda

Bắn cá rồngDr. Faustin Ntezilyayo is The Chief Justice of Rwanda since 4 December 2019.   Dr. Ntezilyayo served in different capacities as Minister of Justice (1996-1999); Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of Rwanda (2000-2003); Managing Director of the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (2003-2005); Senior Legal Advisor, Ministry of Trade and Industry (1995-1996); among others.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Ntezilyayo was serving as a Judge of the East African Court of Justice First Instance Division, (since April 2013), Deputy Principal Juge (July 2018), a Lecturer of Law at the University of Rwanda, School of Law; Arbitrator (Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, FCIArb); and a Member of the Panel of Conciliators of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) (2015-2021).

Bắn cá rồngDr Ntezilyayo holds a PhD in Law from University of Antwerp, Belgium (1994); LLM in Fiscal Law from Free University of Brussels, Belgium (1996); M.A. in International Affairs with specialization in International Trade Policy from Carleton University, Canada, (2009) and LLB from National University of Rwanda (1986).