Lady Justice Immaculée Nyirinkwaya, Rwanda’s trailblazing female Supreme Court justice, bid farewell to the judiciary after an illustrious 27-year career. In bidding farewell to her, Rwanda’s top judicial practitioners gathered at the Supreme Court Headquarters on Friday, July 7, to honor her legacy. Among them included her colleagues, lawyers, and members of her family.
Chief Justice Faustin Ntazilyayo commended Justice Nyirinkwaya’s remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication to justice. He underscored her tireless efforts in upholding the rule of law and her significant impact on shaping Rwanda’s legal landscape, particularly in the aftermath of the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
“Right After the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, Rwanda faced numerous challenges, especially within its justice system. Lady Justice Nyirinkwaya played a pivotal role in rebuilding the legal infrastructure, which had been severely affected by the atrocities. Her unwavering commitment addressed the scarcity of qualified personnel and expertise, ultimately strengthening the justice system,” he stated.
The Chief Justice also lauded Nyirinkwaya’s strong analytical and logical thinking skills, as well as her active involvement in mentoring young lawyers. He emphasized her deep commitment to upholding the law and promoting justice, leaving an indelible impact on the legal profession.
Emeritus Lady Justice Aloysie Cyanzayire, and a long-time associate of Nyirinkwaya, described her as an organized and humble individual. Cyanzayire highlighted Nyirinkwaya’s exceptional ability to plan, prioritize, and manage tasks effectively, enabling her to handle responsibilities in an orderly manner.
During her farewell speech, the 65-year-old Lady Justice Nyirinkwaya expressed gratitude for the cooperation and support she received from her colleagues throughout her 27-year tenure. Reflecting on her career, she emphasized the importance of professionalism, integrity, and a commitment to high standards, sacrifice, consideration, and prioritization.
“As a professional decision-maker, I understood the significance of selflessness beyond personal gain. Gaining people’s trust and recognizing that every decision carries consequences that can significantly impact lives helped guide my choices,” she said.
Nyirinkwaya further advised her fellow colleagues and aspiring legal practitioners to remain committed to social justice, embrace collaboration, uphold integrity and ethics, and make meaningful contributions to the legal field in order to promote a fair and equitable legal system.
Born in 1958, Nyirinkwaya made history as the first female Justice appointed to the Supreme Court of Rwanda in 1996. She holds a law degree in Commercial Law from the University of Paris II-Assas (1982) and an LLB in Insurance Law.