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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Council
at its 171st session (Geneva, 27 September 2002)

The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Mr. Eustache Nkerinka, Mr. Jacques Maniraguha, Mr. Jean-Léonard Bizimana and Mr. Joseph Sebarenzi Kabuye of Rwanda, 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/171/12(a)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case,

Considering the following information on file:

  • Mr. Nkerinka, Mr. Maniraguha and Mr. Bizimana were dismissed from Parliament on 9 March 1999 after being expelled from their party, the Democratic Republican Movement; prior to their dismissal they had reportedly been the subject of hostile press articles for several months accusing them of opposing national unity and reconciliation and collaborating with "infiltrators" (members of the armed opposition); according to the source, at least one of them had been criticised for denouncing human rights violations by the Rwandan Patriotic Army and for speaking to foreign media; according to the parliamentary authorities, they were all stripped of their party membership as a result of their refusal to sign a modification of the Party statute eliminating all reference to ethnicity and were subsequently also stripped of their parliamentary mandates;

  • Mr. Sebarenzi resigned from his post of President of the Transitional National Assembly on 6 January 2000 after an intense campaign had been under way against him, accusing him in particular of sowing division in his party, the Liberal Party, of collaborating with the negative forces of the country and of dividing the Army; at a meeting of political parties convened by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) on 10 January 2000, it was decided to revoke Mr. Sebarenzi's parliamentary mandate for "conduct contrary to national reconciliation"; according to the source Mr. Sebarenzi, a member of the Liberal Party, was regarded as an independent politician bent on denouncing abuses and enhancing the independence and role of the Transitional National Assembly, particularly with regard to oversight of government action; thus, in 1997 Mr. Sebarenzi had made use of his prerogative, established in Article 6 D of the Arusha Peace Agreement, to promulgate the law of 14 April 1997 on the oversight of government action after the President of the Republic had refused to do so; moreover, Mr. Sebarenzi reportedly denounced the practice of the revocation of deputies by political parties, established in 1999, as unconstitutional in a letter of 9 March 1999 to the President of the Republic; in January 2002 Mr. Sebarenzi left the country for fear of his life,

Considering that, in the view of the parliamentary authorities, by virtue of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement, the parliamentary mandate is not personal and deputies do not hold their mandate by popular will but, as provided in Article 60 of the Arusha Agreement, are designated by their parties; it is their view that parties are consequently entitled to revoke the mandates of those they have designated as MPs; according to the comments provided in this respect by the President of the Transitional National Assembly in his letter of 28 March 2000, deputies are "proposed by the political parties and subsequently endorsed by the Forum of Political Parties. … Having been dismissed from their party - which dismissal was endorsed by the other parties - they were ipso facto stripped of their parliamentary duties because they no longer represented any political party in the Transitional National Assembly",

Considering that the parliamentary authorities have repeatedly argued that Rwanda is in the process of drafting and adopting a new Constitution, a process which, in the words of the President of the Transitional National Assembly "will give rise to a procedure concerning the administration of the parliamentary mandate and we have no reason at this point in time to anticipate or duplicate the work already assigned to technical bodies …"; on 4 June 2002, he stated that the necessary steps had been taken "to ensure that the parliamentary mandate regime, including the question of revocation of the mandate, has a place in the new Constitution of Rwanda"; however, the Committee has not been apprised of the content of the proposed legislation in this field,

Considering that the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Rwanda (1994), consisting of the Constitution of 10 June 1991, the Arusha Peace Agreement, the Declaration of the FRP (Rwandan Patriotic Front) of 17 January 1994 relating to the establishment of institutions and the Protocol of Agreement between the political forces (FPR, MDR, PDC, PDI, PLPSD, PSR, UDPR) signed on 24 November 1994, contains no provision authorizing the political parties to revoke a parliamentary mandate; noting in particular that: (i) in conformity with Article 60 of the Arusha Agreement the mandate of the Transitional National Assembly covers the entire transitional period; (ii) pursuant to Article 65 of the Agreement, "any imperative mandate is null and void; Deputies' voting rights are ad personam"; (iii) pursuant to Article 71 of the Agreement, a member may be stripped of his/her mandate only in the case of final sentencing on a criminal charge; (iv) pursuant to Article 67 of the 1991 Constitution, a parliamentary mandate may be revoked only if the MP concerned no longer meets the conditions for eligibility (to be of Rwandan nationality and at least 21 years of age),

  1. Stresses that the revocation of a parliamentarian's mandate is a serious measure which irrevocably deprives such a member of the possibility of carrying out the mandate entrusted to him/her and that it must therefore be taken by Parliament in full accordance with the law, following a legal procedure guaranteeing the right to defence for the MPs concerned, and only on serious grounds;

  2. Also stresses that the absence of such a procedure, including the absence of defence guarantees for the parliamentarians concerned, paves the way for abuses and ultimately harms Parliament itself;

  3. Notes that no legal provision in the Fundamental Law of Rwanda authorises political parties to revoke or dismiss members of Parliament; consequently considers that the expulsion of the MPs concerned was unfounded in law;

  4. Calls therefore on the Transitional National Assembly to take the necessary measures to protect the rights of its members, to provide redress for the former MPs concerned, and to ensure that a decision to revoke or dismiss an MP from Parliament is taken only on the basis of a procedure provided for by law;

  5. Would appreciate information on the provisions made in the draft constitution for revocation of the parliamentary mandate;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the President of the Transitional National Assembly;

  7. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (April 2003).

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