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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 182nd session
(Cape Town, 18 April 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Léonard Hitimana, a member of the Transitional National Assembly of Rwanda dissolved on 22 August 2003, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/182/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 181st session (October 2007),

Taking account of the letter from the President of the National Assembly of Rwanda, dated 11 April 2008,

Recalling the following:

  • Mr. Léonard Hitimana disappeared during the night of 7 to 8 April 2003, the day before he was to refute in parliament the accusations of fomenting ethnic division levelled by a parliamentary inquiry commission in a report against his party in which his name was mentioned;

  • While the sources believe that he was abducted by the Rwandan intelligence service, the authorities, for their part, have stated their belief that Mr. Hitimana fled to a neighbouring country and were very optimistic that he would soon be located, as had been Brigadier General Emmanuel Habyarimana and Colonel Barthazar Ndengeyinka;

  • In October 2005, the President of the Chamber of Deputies referred Mr. Hitimana's case to the National Human Rights Commission, which had already assumed jurisdiction on its own initiative; according to the President of the Senate, at a hearing held in October 2007, the parliament was in regular contact with the Human Rights Commission, which continued to follow the matter closely, and the investigations were continuing,
Considering the information provided by one of the sources on 12 January 2008 that, despite repeated assurances from the President of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Hitimana's father was close to death in the central prison of Gisovu, where he has been held for several months; recalling that with respect to the previous arrest and detention at the beginning of 2007 of Mr. Hitimana's father, the President of the National Human Rights Commission, in her letter of 20 April 2007 to the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, stated that as soon as she realized that the arrest had been arbitrary, she had referred the matter to the appropriate authorities, and that subsequently he had been released on 26 March 2007,

Considering that, in his letter of 11 April 2008, the President of the National Assembly affirmed that all lines of inquiry brought to the attention of the authorities were investigated and that the Assembly was anxious to settle the matter while wishing to leave the authorities the necessary time to do their work,

  1. Thanks the President of the National Assembly for his letter; is nevertheless dismayed that, five years after Mr. Hitimana disappeared, the investigation has not yielded any tangible result; considers that the information on file regarding the investigation suggests a lack of any serious effort by the authorities to establish the truth in this case;

  2. Reaffirms its belief that the suspicion that Mr. Hitimana was indeed the victim of an enforced disappearance has, with the passage of time, gained ground and needs to be taken extremely seriously and investigated by the authorities;

  3. 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 on the Parliament once more to avail itself of its oversight function to monitor the investigation effectively in this case and to send a clear signal to the investigating authorities that they should spare no effort in fully elucidating Mr. Hitimana's disappearance;

  5. Expresses concern at the current situation of Mr. Hitimana's father; trusts that the President of the National Human Rights Commission has once more successfully intervened in this regard; would appreciate information in this respect;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities and to the sources;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 119th Assembly of the IPU (Geneva, October 2008).
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