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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 194th session
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to its examination of the cases of the above-mentioned Burundian parliamentarians and to the resolution it adopted at its 193rd session (October 2013),

Considering the report (CL/193/11(b)-R.1) on the visit conducted by the President of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to Burundi from 17 to 20 June 2013,

Considering the letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly dated 28 November 2013 providing his observations on the report of the visit of the President of the Committee, as well as that forwarded on 17 March 2014,

Recalling that the cases, which the Committee has been examining for many years, concern:

  • The assassinations of six members of the National Assembly between 1994 and 2000, namely Mr. Sylvestre Mfayokurera (September 1994), Mr. Innocent Ndikumana (January 1996), Ms. Liliane Ntamutumba and Mr. Gérard Gahungu (July 1996), Mr. Paul Sirahenda (September 1997), and Mr. Gabriel Gisabwamana (January 2000), the assassination in 2002 of Mr. Jean Bosco Rutagengwa and two assassination attempts on Mr. Norbert Ndihokubwayo (September 1994 and December 1995), all of which remain unpunished to date;

  • Criminal proceedings brought against Mr. Hussein Radjabu, Mr. Pasteur Mpawenayo, Mr. Gérard Nkurunziza and Mr. Déo Nshirimana, all of whom belonged to the dissident wing of the CNDD-FDD led by Mr. Radjabu (who was ousted on 7 February 2007 from the CNDD-FDD party leadership), all of whom lost their seats in parliament following the Constitutional Court ruling of 5 June 2007 declaring them to be sitting unconstitutionally, and whose judicial situation is currently as follows:
  • Mr. Radjabu is serving a 13-year prison term for conspiracy against State security;

  • Mr. Mpawenayo was arrested in July 2008 and accused of being Mr. Radjabu’s accomplice and of having co-chaired the meeting at which the acts of which he and Mr. Radjabu were accused are alleged to have occurred; he was acquitted by the Supreme Court judicial chamber at the end of May 2012 and subsequently released; the public prosecutor lodged an appeal;

  • Mr. Nshirimana, who was arrested in October 2010 by agents of the National Intelligence Service (SNR), was charged with plotting against the State and incitement to disobedience; the Supreme Court acquitted him on 26 November 2012; he was released after having been detained on remand for almost the entire the maximum sentence to which he was liable; the public prosecutor lodged an appeal;

  • Mr. Nkurunziza was arrested in July 2008 and accused of having distributed weapons in his province, Kirundo, for a rebellion against the authority of the State; the proceedings have been marked by numerous delays and the lawfulness of Mr. Nkurunziza’s detention has never been considered by a judge, despite the trial going on for over five years; the Supreme Court heard and adjourned to deliberate the case in May 2012 but, instead of ruling on the case, the Supreme Court decided on 30 September 2013 to re‑open proceedings,
Recalling that the Burundian authorities consider that the cases of the assassinated parliamentarians should be dealt with by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC), once established, given their complexity and political nature; the process to set up the TRC has been marred by repeated delays for over 10 years; draft legislation was submitted by the Government to the National Assembly in early 2013; several of the draft legislation’s provisions, including on the composition and independence of the TRC and victim protection, have raised serious concerns among the international community and civil society,

Considering that, in the aforementioned two communications, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Burundi noted that, with regard to the setting up of the TRC, the criticisms of the content of the draft legislation were not relevant to the status of progress in that process, since the content of legislation to be adopted by the National Assembly could not be anticipated; that setting up the TRC was a delicate political process, requiring consultation with the various political and social actors in order to encourage consensus, and stated that the National Assembly would exercise due diligence to ensure its establishment; he called for patience and emphasized that each step was important and should be recognized and supported as such to ensure the country had a consensual TRC that met the expectations of its citizens in all their diversity,

Considering that, according to the sources, a year after its submission to the National Assembly, the draft legislation has still not been adopted and the process is blocked,

Recalling that, given the delays and difficulties encountered in setting up the TRC, the National Assembly ad hoc parliamentary working group on the human rights of parliamentarians (hereafter “the parliamentary working group”) proposed, during the Committee President’s follow-up visit in June 2013, to travel to the provinces to collect information on the circumstances in which the assassinations had taken place from the victims’ families and friends,

Considering that the Speaker of the National Assembly stated that the parliamentary working group had been in contact with the families of the assassinated parliamentarians, that the latter had said that they were afraid to give evidence about the circumstances of the assassinations and had asked that adequate assurances be given regarding their safety; as a result, the National Assembly had informed them that it would ensure that witness protection measures were adequately provided for in legislation on the TRC,

Considering furthermore that, regarding the case of Mr. Radjabu, according to the source, Mr. Radjabu lodged a request for a retrial on 21 August 2013 with the Minister of Justice, to which he has received no response so far; this application cites as grounds for review the acquittal of Mr. Mpawenayo and errors of law in the appreciation of items of evidence by the Supreme Court,

Considering that the findings of the Supreme Court in the ruling on the acquittal of Mr. Mpawenayo, a copy of which was forwarded by the sources, confirms that Mr. Mpawenayo was acquitted of the same charges as those for which Mr. Radjabu was convicted; the Supreme Court held that the public prosecution had failed to prove the charges against Mr. Mpawenayo; the Court held that the prosecution witnesses were not convincing and that the meeting of 31 March 2007 held at Mr. Radjabu’s home had not been proven, given the absence of any record of the demobilized officers who had allegedly been present at this meeting, and of the audio recordings of this meeting cited by the prosecution; the Court also noted that no evidence of the alleged weapons’ seizures had been provided by the prosecution and found that, “all the offences of which Mr. Mpawenayo is accused remain(ed) hypothetical.”

Considering that the Speaker of the National Assembly stated that, during a meeting with the parliamentary working group, the Minister of Justice had confirmed that he had received a request for retrial, but that this request had been rejected on both legal and discretionary prosecution grounds,

Considering that the Supreme Court issued Mr. Gérard Nkurunziza’s acquittal ruling on 31 January 2014, following which he was released on 3 February 2014; the public prosecutor is likely to appeal against the acquittal, as the deadline for appeal has not yet expired,

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the National Assembly for the information provided; regrets, nevertheless, once again its late transmission, which does not facilitate the work of the Committee, and urges him to ensure that official communications are forwarded within deadlines in the future;

  2. Notes with interest Mr. Nkurunziza’s acquittal, while deploring that he was held in detention for over five years, a situation that could have been avoided if the courts had ruled on the legality of his detention within the legal deadlines; expresses the hope that it will be able to consider this case as definitively resolved and to close it in the near future and wishes, to that end, to obtain confirmation that the public prosecutor did not appeal;

  3. Considers that the decision handed down by the Supreme Court regarding Mr. Mpawenayo can only prompt the authorities to re-examine the evidence on which Mr. Radjabu was convicted and should therefore lead to Mr. Radjabu’s retrial; deeply regrets that Mr. Radjabu’s retrial application was rejected; is surprised that the latter was not informed and wishes to be informed of the detailed grounds for this decision as soon as possible;

  4. Welcomes the National Assembly’s commitment to providing for adequate witness protection measures in legislation on the TRC; notes, nonetheless, with concern that the draft legislation on the TRC has yet to be adopted by the National Assembly and wishes to be informed of the anticipated time frame for its adoption; remains convinced that the TRC has a crucial role to play in strengthening peace, reconciliation and the democratic process in Burundi, as well as in preventing further violence, in particular with respect to the 2015 elections; reiterates its hope that an independent, legitimate and credible TRC will be established as soon as possible;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to forward this resolution to the parliamentary authorities, to the sources and to any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information;

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining these cases and to report back to it in due course.

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