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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 185th session
(Geneva, 21 October 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/185/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 184th session (April 2009),

Taking into account the letter of the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of Rwanda of 24 June 2009,

Recalling that Mr. Léonard Hitimana disappeared during the night of 7 to 8 April 2003, the day before he was to have refuted in parliament accusations of fomenting ethnic divisions; 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, which has not been the case,

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 and that the Chamber was anxious to see the matter settled; in her letter of 9 February 2009, the new Speaker stated that parliament had no new information on the investigation into Mr. Hitimana’s disappearance; considering that the Speaker reiterated this in her latest letter,

Recalling the many reports concerning harassment of Mr. Hitimana's family, including his 80-year-old father, who, after being declared innocent by a Gacaca court, was only released on 26 March 2007 thanks to the intercession of the National Human Rights Commission; that he was reportedly rearrested arbitrarily on the strength of “new information” brought to the attention of the Gacaca court and, according to information provided in March 2009, was close to death in the central prison of Gisovu,

Considering that the United Nations Human Rights Committee, in its concluding observations (CCPR/C/RWA/CO/3) of 31 March 2009, expressed "concern about reported cases of enforced disappearances and summary or arbitrary executions in Rwanda and about the impunity apparently enjoyed by the police forces responsible for such violations", and "the lack of information from the State party regarding the disappearance of Mr. Léonard Hitimana"; it stated that "the State party should ensure that all allegations of such violations are investigated by an independent authority and that those responsible for such acts are prosecuted and duly punished.",

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies for her communication;

  2. Is deeply concerned that, in the complete absence of any results in the more than six years since Mr. Hitimana was last seen, the authorities have thus far, contrary to their obligation, failed to act with the necessary resolve to elucidate his fate; is concerned that there is no sign that Parliament is taking action to ensure that the competent police and judicial officers are held to account for the scant investigation carried out thus far;

  3. Firmly believes that, after all these years, the only remaining plausible explanation of Mr. Hitimana's disappearance is that he was indeed the victim of an enforced disappearance; considers that the United Nations Human Rights Committee's views highlight the seriousness of this allegation;

  4. Is therefore deeply concerned that the authorities have yet to give due consideration to this increasingly likely explanation of what befell Mr. Hitimana; 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. Urges the authorities, in line with the concluding observations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, to pursue the investigation into Mr. Hitimana’s disappearance with the necessary vigour and diligence by seriously examining the increasingly likely hypothesis that Mr. Hitimana was the victim of a forced disappearance; urges once again the parliament to make use of its oversight function to ensure that real efforts are made to this end; and wishes to ascertain the action it will take to this end; wishes also to be kept informed of any investigative steps that may now be taken;

  6. Regrets the absence of any official information about the plight of Mr. Hitimana’s father; earnestly hopes that the National Human Rights Commission will again 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 122nd IPU Assembly (March-April 2010).
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