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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 173rd session (Geneva, 3 October 2003)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Eustache Nkerinka, Mr. Jacques Maniraguha, Mr. Jean-Léonard Bizimana and Mr. Joseph Sebarenzi Kabuye, of Rwanda, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/173/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 171st session (September 2002),

Taking account of the letter from the President of the Transitional National Assembly of 31 July 2003 stating that the adoption of the new Constitution on 26 May 2003 put an end to the transition period in Rwanda,

Recalling that Mr. Nkerinka, Mr. Maniraguha and Mr. Bizimana, members of the Transitional National Assembly dissolved on 22 August 2003 after the adoption of the new Constitution, and Mr. Sebarenzi, President of that Assembly, lost their parliamentary mandate in March 1999 and January 2000, respectively, as a result of a decision taken by political parties; also recalling that the Fundamental Law of Rwanda in force at the time did not contain any legal provision authorising political parties to revoke parliamentarians or to strip them of their mandate,

Recalling that, given the absence of any provision providing for the expulsion of MPs from Parliament on the basis of a decision taken by a political party, it considered that the dismissal of the MPs concerned from Parliament was unlawful, and stressed in this respect the constant position of the IPU on the revocation of the parliamentary mandate, namely that this is a serious measure as it irrevocably deprives the parliamentarians concerned of the possibility to fulfil their mandate and that it must therefore be taken by Parliament on a clear legal basis, following a legal procedure guaranteeing the right to defence of the parliamentarian concerned and solely on serious grounds; recalling finally its belief that the absence of clear legal provisions on the revocation of the parliamentary mandate paves the way for abuses and ultimately harms Parliament itself,

Considering that, to avoid such cases in the future, the Committee invited the Inter-Parliamentary Union, under its technical cooperation programme, to provide advice and assistance to the Transitional National Assembly in preparing the provisions of the draft Constitution concerning revocation of the parliamentary mandate; a mission to that effect was carried out by an expert from 30 March to 5 April 2003,

Considering that, in his report, the expert noted that the draft Constitution: (a) provided for a free mandate; (b) stipulated that the parliamentarian represents the Nation and that voting is ad personam; and (c) provided for parliamentary immunity; notwithstanding these principles, Article 77 provided for the automatic loss of parliamentary mandate not only in the case of resignation or change of party, but also in that of expulsion from one's party; the report also noted the lack of any provision laying down the procedure whereby a party might rightfully expel one of its member MPs and whereby MPs concerned might seek legal redress; considering that the expert made recommendations with a view to ensuring greater consistency between the general principles stipulated in the draft Constitution, the position of the IPU and the provisions of Article 77 of the draft Constitution,

Noting that Article 64 of the new Constitution adopted in May 2003 stipulates that individual members of Parliament represent the Nation and not only those who elected or designated them, nor the political group which sponsored them for the election, declares any imperative mandate to be null and void, enshrines the personal nature of the vote guaranteed by parliamentary immunity; Article 78 (1) stipulates that any deputy who in the course of his/her mandate resigns or is expelled from his/her party or changes party affiliation, automatically forfeits his/her parliamentary seat; Article 78 (2, 3) offers an appeal with suspensive effect before the High Court of the Republic and the Supreme Court against such decisions,

  1. Thanks the President of the now dissolved Transitional National Assembly for his cooperation;

  2. Notes that the drafters of the Constitution have acted upon one of the recommendations of the IPU expert, and provided for an appeal against political party decisions that result in loss of the parliamentary mandate;

  3. Notes in this respect that the Constitution provides for loss of the parliamentary mandate on the grounds of expulsion from the political party to which the MP concerned belonged; questions how this provision can be compatible with the general principles of the parliamentary mandate laid down in Article 64 of the Constitution; observes that this provision severs the relationship between members of Parliament and their political parties and thus appears to rule out the revocation of parliamentary mandates by political parties;

  4. Regrets this apparent inconsistency;

  5. Reaffirms that the MPs concerned were expelled from Parliament on legally invalid grounds and were afforded no opportunity of redress; deeply regrets this state of affairs;

  6. Decides to close the case.

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