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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 175th session (Geneva, 1st October 2004)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Léonard Hitimana, a member of the Transitional National Assembly of Rwanda dissolved on 22 August 2003, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/175/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 174th session (April 2004),

Taking account of the letter from the President of the Chamber of Deputies, dated 28 September 2004, and of communications from one of the sources dated 28 June and 25 September 2004,

Also taking account of the report of June 2004 on cases of disappearances of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation sent to the Apostolic Nunciature and the diplomatic missions accredited to Rwanda, a copy of which was forwarded to the Committee by one of the sources,

Recalling that Mr. Léonard Hitimana disappeared in the night of 7 to 8 April 2003; while the sources believe that he is the victim of a forced disappearance and was abducted by the Rwandan Intelligence Service because he had been mentioned in the parliamentary report on his party, the Democratic Republic Movement (Mouvement démocratique républicain, MDR), as belonging to a group of persons allegedly aiming to disseminate an ideology of divisive ethnic discrimination, the authorities have affirmed that this was highly unlikely; according to the authorities, an investigation into his disappearance was immediately opened and is still under way; it is being monitored by Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and National Unity,

Recalling further that, according to the sources, Mr. Hitimana’s family and children have been subjected to threats and intimidation; the parliamentary authorities have stated that they were unaware of this and suggested that the family should bring this situation to the attention of Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and National Unity or to the Ombudsman,

Considering that, according to the report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Hitimana’s vehicle was found abandoned at the Rwanda-Uganda border in Kaniga District; according to information from the local police station, his car had approached the Police checkpoint at Rukomo and the car's occupants, brandishing a firearm, disobeyed orders to stop; efforts by the police to intercept the car were unsuccessful; there were indications that Mr. Hitimana was involved in "preparatory activities on the eve of his departure which are still being investigated"; the National Police in cooperation with other neighbouring police forces had continued to seek the whereabouts of Mr. Hitimana, who was suspected to be living in neighbouring countries; his case was compared to that of two military officers also mentioned in the parliamentary report on the MDR, who had disappeared and been found to be living abroad,

Considering that, according to the President of the Chamber of Deputies, on 21 September 2004 Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and National Unity had a meeting with the Minister in charge of the Police at which the Police Deputy Commissioner General was present; the Minister stated that there was every indication that Mr. Hitimana was in Uganda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that the investigation was continuing to bear out that hypothesis; in his view, a forced disappearance could be ruled out as there were no motives for targeting him; regular meetings between that Committee and the Minister have been planned,

Considering also that, in his letter, the President reiterated that no complaint had been received regarding the harassment of Mr. Hitimana’s family and requested more information in this respect,

  1. Thanks the President of the Chamber of Deputies for the information provided;

  2. Acknowledges that investigations are continuing to establish Mr. Hitimana’s whereabouts, and believes that, as in other similar cases, it should be possible for the authorities to locate Mr. Hitimana if he was indeed living in another country, especially a neighbouring country;

  3. Reaffirms nevertheless that, so long as Mr. Hitimana's whereabouts have not been established, there remains the suspicion of a "forced disappearance"; and recalls that forced disappearances are a serious violation of human rights, and that Article 1 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992, states that "Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity. It is condemned as a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ...";

  4. Calls once again on the parliamentary authorities, who have been informed of the threats against Mr. Hitimana’s children, to do their utmost to support them and to ensure their safety; believes that, rather than waiting for the family to file an official complaint, Parliament should take an initiative to this end; also invites Mr. Hitimana’s family to inform the President of the Chamber of Deputies of its situation;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary and other competent authorities, inviting them to keep the Committee informed of any progress in the investigation;

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 112th Assembly (April 2005).

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