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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 187th session
(Geneva, 6 October 2010)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Léonard Hitimana, who disappeared in April 2003 while he was a member of the Transitional National Assembly of Rwanda, which was dissolved on 22 August 2003, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/187/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 186th session (April 2010),

Recalling the following information on file:

  • Hitimana disappeared in the evening of 7 April 2003, the day before he was to have refuted in parliament accusations that his party, the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), was fomenting ethnic strife and division, and that the authorities have long stated that Mr. Hitimana fled to a neighbouring country and were very optimistic that he would soon be located, which has not happened even seven years after his disappearance;

  • In March 2010, one of the sources provided the following information about the alleged circumstances of Mr. Hitimana's disappearance: witnesses saw that, late in the afternoon of 7 April 2003, Rwandan intelligence service (DMI) officers intercepted Mr. Hitimana’s car in the street, closing it to the public, and took him to Kami military camp, where he was allegedly tortured and killed in May 2003 by a DMI officer named John Karangwa; his remains were then removed to an unknown destination; persons making their rounds at the Kaniga border post reportedly saw Mr. Hitimana’s car and that of the military; his car was moved by the police to Byumba station, where it was kept for a month; Mr. Hitimana’s representatives subsequently retrieved the car and were told by the police that it was in the state in which they had found it close to the border with Uganda; according to the representatives, the car’s electric cables had been cut, the key was no longer in the ignition and there were bloodstains on the front seat; they subsequently sold the car to a human rights organization called Coforwa;

  • 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 about “the lack of information from the State party regarding the disappearance of Mr. Léonard Hitimana”;

  • The sources reported harassment of Mr. Hitimana's family, including his elderly father, who was arrested, detained and finally declared innocent by a Gacaca court, but only released after the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission intervened; he was rearrested, reportedly on the strength of “new information” and, according to the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, convicted and sentenced to a 15-year prison term, which he is serving in the central prison of Muhanga, for his involvement in the 1994 genocide,
Bearing in mind that John Karangwa has been accused by non-governmental sources not only of having killed Mr. Hitimana but also of having kidnapped and executed, in April 2003, Mr. Augustin Cyiza, Vice-President of Rwanda’s Supreme Court, President of Rwanda’s Cassation Court and founding member of two Rwandan human rights organizations; that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture sent out urgent appeals in 2003 to the Rwandan Government regarding the arbitrary detention and alleged torture of detainees at Kami military camp, among other camps,
  1. Is dismayed at the absence of any response by the parliamentary authorities to the detailed allegations provided about the circumstances of Mr. Hitimana’s disappearance;

  2. Would believe that, aware of its fundamental role as a guardian of human rights and aware of the necessity to fight impunity in all its forms, the Rwandan parliament would wish to ensure that the investigative authorities shed full light on these serious allegations and fulfil their duty to dispense justice and to ensure the right of the family of Mr. Hitimana to know the truth;

  3. Urges therefore the parliament, in exercising its oversight function, to raise this matter as a matter of urgency with the competent authorities;

  4. Observes with concern that, instead of retaining Mr. Hitimana’s car for examination as would have been their duty, the police authorities handed it over to Mr. Hitimana’s family, thus abandoning an important piece of evidence, and considers that such omission, together with the wealth of information provided by the sources and the absence of any support for the official theory that he is alive and living abroad, tends to show that Mr. Hitimana was indeed taken by force and killed;

  5. Considers thereforethat Mr. Hitimana can no longer be believed to be somewhere abroad, but that it has to be concluded that he was the victim of a forced disappearance;

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

  7. Urges the competent authorities to investigate Mr. Hitimana's forced disappearance fully and forthwith by examining the serious leads that exist, including by questioning Mr. Karangwa; wishes to ascertain what initiatives Parliament will take to ensure that the competent authorities indeed fulfil their duty to prevent impunity and dispense justice;

  8. Reiterates its keen interest, in the light of the 2007 acquittal by a Gacaca court of Mr. Hitimana’s father, his arbitrary detention thereafter, and his allegedly arbitrary second arrest, in ascertaining the legal basis of and facts adduced to substantiate his recent conviction; would appreciate therefore receiving a copy of the judgment handed down on him;

  9. 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;

  10. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 124th IPU Assembly (April 2011).
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