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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 192nd session
(Quito, 27 March 2013)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Seized of the case of the nine above-mentioned former parliamentarians, which has been examined by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians since its 132nd session (January 2011) under the Procedure for the treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of the human rights of members of parliament,

Referring to the letter of 19 February 2013 from the Secretary General of the National Assembly and the information provided by the authorities and the sources met by the President of the Committee during his visit to Lomé from 2 to 5 March 2013,

Considering the following information on file:

  • The above-mentioned former parliamentarians were all elected in 2010 on the ticket of the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), an opposition party led by Mr. Gilchrist Olympio; following the latter’s association with the Togolese People’s Rally (RPT), the ruling party, which gave the UFC seven ministerial portfolios soon after the elections of March 2010, 20 UFC members of the National Assembly broke away and formed a new political party called the National Alliance for Change (ANC); they resigned from the UFC parliamentary group at the same time and formed an ANC parliamentary group;

  • Before their election, the parliamentarians in question had been obliged, in accordance with a well-established practice among Togolese political parties, to sign and give to their party undated blank letters of resignation as a condition of inclusion in its electoral rolls;

  • After the break-up of the UFC and the formation of the ANC, the letters of resignation of the nine parliamentarians concerned were transmitted by the Speaker of the National Assembly to the Constitutional Court, which took note of the undated resignations, declared the corresponding seats vacant and replaced the persons in question; the parliamentarians were not heard during the proceedings by either the National Assembly or the Constitutional Court, and clearly stated that they had not resigned their seats; the parliamentary authorities and the Constitutional Court were aware of the nature of the letters of resignation and knew that the persons concerned had no intention of resigning their seats;

  • The parliamentarians thus removed from office brought their case before the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with a view to obtaining their reinstatement to the National Assembly;

  • On 7 October 2011, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice handed down its judgement in the case and ruled that the State of Togo had violated “the plaintiffs’ fundamental right to be heard as set out in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights” and, consequently, ordered Togo “to make reparation for the violation of the plaintiffs’ human rights and pay each of them the amount of three million (3,000,000) CFA francs” [translated from the French]; in a decision of 13 March 2012 on a request for judicial review it also ruled that, given that it was not an appeal court or able to quash the judgements of national courts, it was not competent, according to its well-established case-law, to overturn the decision of the Togolese Constitutional Court and order that the parliamentarians in question be reinstated;

  • The Togolese State took note of the Community Court of Justice’s ruling and, pursuant to a decision by the Council of Ministers of 2 November 2011, the Minister of Justice asked the Minister of Finance to ensure that the amount of 3 million CFA francs was made available to each of the plaintiffs in compensation for the injury they had sustained; the parliamentarians concerned refused that compensation, which therefore remains to be paid, and continued to demand their reinstatement to the National Assembly;

  • The exclusion of several opposition members of parliament exacerbated the political tension in Togo between majority and opposition parties; the legislative elections scheduled for the autumn of 2012 were postponed and are currently scheduled to take place in May 2013,
Bearing in mind the Constitution of the Republic of Togo, Article 52 of which stipulates that “… each deputy shall be the representative of the entire Nation. Any imperative mandate shall be nullified”, and Article 50 of which stipulates that “the rights and duties set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the international human rights instruments ratified by Togo shall form an integral part of the present Constitution”,

Considering that the Minister of Planning, Decentralization and Local Communities has publicly announced that draft legislation against “fair weather politics” would be sent to the National Assembly shortly,

Considering the following: the Committee President visited Lomé from 2 to 5 March 2013 in order to meet with the competent authorities and the parliamentarians concerned; he was unable to meet with the parliamentary authorities, as the National Assembly was not in session and the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were travelling on the dates of his visit; he met the Ministers of Justice and Planning, both of whom have jurisdiction in the case, the parliamentarians concerned, and several representatives of the international community; during the visit:

  • The nine parliamentarians concerned expressed their wish to engage in renewed dialogue with the authorities thanks to mediation and asked for the IPU’s assistance to organize such mediation; they said that they were willing to accept financial compensation; only Mr. Jean-Pierre Fabre, the party president, continued to demand reinstatement to the National Assembly; he nevertheless indicated that he would be willing to accept payment of one symbolic franc if his party agreed to financial reparation;

  • The Ministers of Justice and Planning also said that the Togolese State was willing to engage in political dialogue with the former parliamentarians, with a view to finding a solution to the crisis thanks to mediation facilitated by the IPU;

  • The international players present in Togo, in particular the European Union and the United Nations, welcomed and strongly endorsed the Committee’s action and the IPU, which they trusted would rekindle political dialogue between the authorities and the Togolese opposition in the run-up to the forthcoming legislative elections,
  1. Thanks the authorities, the sources and the various people met by the Committee President during his visit to Lomé for their cooperation and notes with satisfaction that they wish to re-engage in political dialogue with a view to resolving the case;

  2. Is convinced that there can be no political solution unless the parliamentarians concerned and the authorities resume their dialogue, and can but encourage them to do so; fully endorses the organization of mediation facilitated by the IPU and requests the Secretary General to take all appropriate measures to that end as soon as possible, given the forthcoming legislative elections;

  3. Considers that, in addition to the grave prejudice suffered by the nine former parliamentarians, the widespread practice by political parties in Togo of obliging candidates wishing to figure on their electoral lists to sign blank and undated letters of resignation is clearly at odds with the prohibition of the imperative mandate enshrined in the Constitution; welcomes the Minister of Planning’s announcement that draft legislation against “fair weather politics” will be sent to the National Assembly soon and calls on the National Assembly to take appropriate legislative measures to put a stop to that practice; suggests that, in the context of its technical assistance programme for the National Assembly, the IPU, with the parliamentary authorities, should study the possibility of cooperating with them to that end; wishes to learn the views of the parliamentary authorities on this point;

  4. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent parliamentary and executive authorities, the sources and the members of the international community working to resolve the political crisis in Togo;

  5. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.
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