Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 162nd session (Windhoek, 11 April 1998)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Having before it the case of Mr. Ngarléjy Yorongar of Chad, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in accordance with the " Procedure for the examination and treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of human rights of parliamentarians ",

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/161/11(a)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case,

Considering that Mr. Yorongar, an opposition member of the National Assembly of Chad elected in January 1997, is one of the most vocal critics of the manner in which a major oil project in Chad is currently being carried out by an international consortium made up of Elf, Esso and Shell,

Considering that, according to the sources, on 4 June 1997 on the occasion of his investiture, Mr. Yorongar questioned the Prime Minister on the oil project, referring in particular to its administration and the financing of the electoral campaign of some candidates by Elf; that, on 12 June 1997 at a seminar for MPs, he made the same statements and that he had exchanged correspondence with the Prime Minister on the subject,

Considering that, in response to a letter from the Prime Minister, Mr. Yorongar wrote him again on 25 June 1997, setting out in detail his concerns regarding the oil project, inter alia that the President of the Republic and his family and relatives monopolised and mismanaged it,

Considering that, on 5 July 1997, he organised a public debate on the oil project; that, in a newspaper article on the debate published on 9 July in the Observateur, he was quoted as saying that the President of the National Assembly had received the sum of 1.5 billion CFA francs from the oil consortium,

Considering that, on 4 August 1997, referring to Mr. Yorongar's letter of 25 June 1997 to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice requested the Prosecutor General to demand the lifting of Mr. Yorongar's parliamentary immunity to permit his prosecution for insulting the Head of State; that, on 7 August, the Prosecutor General requested the National Assembly to lift Mr. Yorongar's parliamentary immunity,

Considering that, on 1 August 1997, the President of the National Assembly filed a lawsuit for defamation against the Director of the Observateur and his accomplice, Mr. Yorongar; that, on 7 August 1997, referring to the said article, the Prosecutor General requested the lifting of Mr. Yorongar's parliamentary immunity to permit his prosecution on charges of defamation,

Considering that, according to the sources, in September 1997, while Mr. Yorongar was abroad for medical treatment, the President of the National Assembly convened its Bureau to lift Mr. Yorongar's immunity; that, however, the Bureau decided that, in accordance with the Assembly's Standing Orders, Mr. Yorongar's presence was required; that, in October 1997, a renewed demand was rejected for the same reason; that, since Mr. Yorongar's return to the country in December 1997, the National Assembly met several times to decide on the matter; that, however, it was obliged on each occasion to adjourn the debate owing to procedural irregularities,

Considering that the National Assembly is to take the matter up again at its current spring session,

Considering that, in his letter of 12 March 1998, the Secretary General of the Office of the President of the Republic says that Mr. Yorongar's case is " a matter first of an intra-parliamentary nature and then for the courts. Chad's parliamentarians will have to decide this case at their next session in all conscience, in accordance with their Standing Orders and the basic law of Chad ",

Considering that in the light of Article 114 of the Constitution, which stipulates that MPs may not be prosecuted, arrested, detained or tried for opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of their mandate; that the sources consider that Mr. Yorongar's immunity cannot properly be lifted since he made the offending statements in the exercise of his parliamentary mandate,

Considering that, according to the sources, on 19 September 1997 the President of the Republic issued Decree N° 402 appointing new magistrates who were reportedly carefully chosen in order to ensure Mr. Yorongar's arrest, prosecution and conviction; that, in his letter of 20 October 1997, the President of the National Assembly asserts that " to say that these appointments were made with the aim of prejudicing Mr. Yorongar is a groundless allegation since, every two or three years, the Minister of Justice usually appoints magistrates ". Moreover, the officers of the Court of First Instance of N'Djamena who were competent to hear the case had not been reassigned,

Considering that, according to the sources, Mr. Yorongar was on several occasions arrested, robbed, humiliated and ill-treated since Mr. Déby came to power in 1990 and offered him the post of Prime Minister, which Mr. Yorongar turned down; that, in October 1997, while Mr. Yorongar was in Europe, armed men in a police vehicle commanded by a police commissioner reportedly visited his home several times to enquire whether he had returned from his journey abroad,

Considering that, in his letter of 9 December 1997, the President of the National Assembly mentioned in that connection that " the investigations conducted by my services have not made it possible to confirm or refute the allegations brought to your attention ",

Considering that, according to the sources, on 19 February 1998, when he was at Mondou at the time of the massacres allegedly perpetrated by government forces, Mr. Yorongar escaped an ambush laid by those forces in his village for the purpose of liquidating him; that furthermore, on his return to N'Djamena, Mr. Yorongar was allegedly deprived of electric power to prevent him from communicating abroad, having to borrow a generator to be able to do so,

Considering finally that Chad is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and therefore bound to respect the rights set out therein, in particular the right to security of person,

  1. Thanks the President of the Republic and the President of the National Assembly for their co-operation and for the information they provided;
  2. Stresses that one of the main functions of Parliament is its role of oversight and that when parliamentarians report or denounce a possible malfunction of State bodies, they are simply fulfilling their constitutional role;
  3. Stresses the fundamental importance of the right to freedom of expression, which enables them to fulfil their constitutional role;
  4. Points out that parliamentary immunity is designed to protect members of Parliament from possible groundless proceedings or accusations that may be politically motivated, and stresses that the lifting of a parliamentarian's immunity is therefore a serious measure which must be taken in due legal form by the competent body;
  5. Considers that Mr. Yorongar's action lies prima facie within the normal scope of his parliamentary duties, and consequently hopes that his parliamentary immunity will not be lifted;
  6. Is deeply concerned at the allegations regarding Mr. Yorongar's personal safety and recalls that it is the duty of the State to protect the safety of its citizens;
  7. Urges the authorities, in particular the National Assembly, to do everything in their power to ensure that Mr. Yorongar's safety is guaranteed at all times and in all circumstances;
  8. Wishes to ascertain whether investigations into the alleged attempt on Mr. Yorongar's life in February 1998 have been instituted;
  9. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the Head of State and to the President of the National Assembly;
  10. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (September 1998).

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