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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 184th session
(Addis Ababa, 10 April 2009)

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, who disappeared in April 2003, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/184/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 183rd session (October 2008),

Recalling that 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 divisions 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 long stated their belief that Mr. Hitimana had fled to a neighbouring country and were very optimistic that he would soon be located,

Recalling that, in his letter of 11 April 2008, the then Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies stated that the authorities were exploring all lines of inquiry brought to their attention and that the National Assembly was anxious to see the matter settled but wished to leave the authorities the necessary time to do their work,

Taking into account the letter from the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, dated 9 February 2009, stating that Parliament had no new information on the investigation into Mr. Hitimana's disappearance,

Recalling the many allegations concerning harassment of Mr. Hitimana's family, including of his 80-year-old father who had been arrested and brought before a Gacaca court which declared him innocent, that he was released on 26 March 2007 on the intercession of the National Human Rights Commission; considering that his father was reportedly rearrested arbitrarily on the basis of “new information” brought to the attention of the Gacaca court and, according to information provided on 11 March 2009, was close to death in the central prison of Gisovu where he is being held,

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies for her communication; nevertheless regrets the absence of any observation indicating that parliament remains concerned about the fate of a former colleague who has disappeared;

  2. Is dismayed at the lack of any progress in the investigation; expresses serious doubt as to its effectiveness and thoroughness given the scant information on file regarding police and judicial action taken in the six years since Mr. Hitimana was last seen;

  3. Reaffirms its conviction that every passing day without any trace of Mr. Hitimana increases the likelihood that he was indeed the victim of an enforced disappearance, and that this suspicion should therefore necessarily guide any determined effort by the authorities to shed full light on Mr. Hitimana's fate; is deeply concerned therefore that apparently no such effort has been made, which thus casts serious doubts on their willingness to determine what befell him;

  4. Recalls that forced disappearances are a serious violation of human rights; reaffirms that the forced disappearance of a member of parliament, if not elucidated and punished, stands as a threat to parliament, to all its members and, in the final analysis, to the people it represents, as it can only encourage the repetition of such acts;

  5. Calls on the authorities to ensure that the investigation is pursued with the necessary vigour and diligence and seriously examines the possibility that Mr. Hitimana was the victim of a forced disappearance; calls on the Parliament to do everything in its power to ensure that effective efforts are made to this end; and wishes to ascertain what, if any, investigative steps are being taken and what official action Parliament is taking to monitor these efforts;

  6. Expresses deep concern about the plight of Mr. Hitimana's father; sincerely hopes that the President of the National Human Rights Commission will again successfully intercede to ensure that his human rights are fully respected;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities, to the President of the National Human Rights Commission and to the source;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 121st Assembly of the IPU (October 2009).
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