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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Rwanda, the case of Victoire Ingabire

4.10.2016 - (2016/2910(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Laura Agea, Isabella Adinolfi, Piernicola Pedicini, Rolandas Paksas on behalf of the EFDD Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-1061/2016

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European Parliament resolution on Rwanda, the case of Victoire Ingabire


The European Parliament,

-Having regards to its previous resolutions on Rwanda, in particular its resolution on the particular case of Victoire Ingabire of May 2013


-Having regard to the 2014 report on Rwanda of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association


-Having regard to the outcome of the 2015 Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda and to the 2016 concluding observation of the UN Human Rights Committee after its review of Rwanda’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


-Having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),


-Having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,


-Having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,


-Having regard to the East African Community Treaty, which requires state parties to abide by principles of good governance, including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, social justice and the maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights,


-Having regard to the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights instruments, in particular, the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa,


-Having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,


A. Whereas a European Parliament delegation was denied access to jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, due to what the Rwandese government said was absence of a formal request


B. Whereas Victoire Ingabire, President of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) which is a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties, returned to Rwanda after 16 years in January 2010 in order to participate in presidential elections as the candidate of the opposition Unified Democratic Forces ; whereas her political activities were focusing on the idea of a state of justice, freedom of political associations, empowerment of women


C. Whereas Victoire Ingabire was ultimately barred from running in presidential elections and was arrested on 14 October 2010 in Kigali ; whereas at the beginning of the trial, she was charged with six offenses of which three are linked to "terrorist acts": creating an armed group, complicity in acts of terrorism and crime of recourse to terrorism and armed force and all other violence in order to harm the established authority and the constitutional principles,


D. Whereas on 30 October 2012, two years after her arrest, the Rwandan tribunal found Victoire Ingabire guilty of conspiracy to harm the existing authority and the constitutional principles using terrorism, armed violence or any other type of violence against the government and grossly minimizing the genocide and sentenced her to 8 years imprisonment, increased in 2013 to 15 years , and remains in prison ;


E. whereas in April 2013 during her appeal in front of the Supreme Court, she was sentenced on the grounds of new charges based on documents found on Wikipedia and not based on legal documents and which according to her Defense Counsel were not presented during the trial while it had cleared her of the 6 charges submitted by the Prosecution; whereas the two new charges include negations/revisionism and high treason;


F. whereas in May 2013, after having testified against Victoire Ingabire in Rwandan High court in 2012, four prosecution witnesses and co-accused told the Supreme Court that their testimonies were falsified; whereas a prominent human rights organisation expressed concerns about their ‘‘prolonged incommunicado detention’’ and the use of torture to coerce confessions’’;

. .

G. Whereas the trial, which started in 2011 is considered by many observers as politically motivated and not in conformity with international standards, guided by fair trial principles,


H. Whereas the prosecution of Victoire Ingabire for "genocide ideology" and "divisionism" illustrates absence of tolerance for political pluralism views by the Rwandan government,


I. Whereas Rwandan citizens in a referendum in December 2015 approved constitutional amendments which allow current President Paul Kagame to run for a third term in 2017 and two additional five year terms thereafter;


J. Whereas the EU Heads of Mission expressed their concern about the lack of a full explanation of the 2015 constitutional amendments, the lack of sufficient time and space for debate about those amendments and the absence of a process allowing for independent monitoring of the December referendum;


K. Whereas presidential elections will take place in 2017 and parliamentary elections in 2018, in a context of very limited political space in Rwanda;


L. Whereas several other opposition party members remain in prison;


M. Whereas Illuminée Iragena, an opposition activist close to Victoire Ingabire, has been missing since March 2016 and there are fears for her safety; Whereas Léonille Gasangayire, a member of the FDU-Inkingi, has been arrested in March and again in August, and is now in pre-trial detention on charges of inciting insurrection or trouble amongst the population; Whereas John Ndabarasa, a journalist working at Sana radio, has gone missing on August 7, and his whereabouts are since unknown;


N. Whereas respect for fundamental human rights including political pluralism, freedom of expression and association are severely restricted, which makes difficult for opposition parties to operate and journalists to write critical views,


O. Whereas the BBC Kinyarwanda service remains suspended since 2014, and the Rwandan media is characterized by self-censorship, intimidation of journalists and limited critical coverage or debate;


P. Whereas the Rwandan government withdrew its declaration allowing individuals to file complaints directly with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on February 29, 2016, only days before judges were to hear a case brought against the Rwandan government by Victoire Ingabire;


Q. Whereas Rwanda is signatory of international human rights Conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,


R. Whereas Rwanda is signatory of the Cotonou agreement where by respect for human rights is an essential element of the EU and ACP cooperation of the Cotonou agreement,


1. Express its strongest concern and regret about Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denial for the EP delegation to visit Ms Victoire Ingabire in prison ; Calls for an urgent solution of this diplomatic incident


2. Reiterates its concerns expressed in its 2013 resolution on Rwanda, including its strong condemnation of politically motivated trials and prosecution of political opponents and its calls on the Rwandan judicial authorities to “effectively investigate allegations of torture and other abuses of human rights, and to bring to justice those committing such offences, as impunity cannot be tolerated” and its condemnation of “intimidation, arrests, detentions, and prosecutions of opposition parties leaders, members, activists, as well as journalists and other perceived critics of Rwandan government solely for expressing their views”.


3. Calls on the Rwandan government to ensure that Victoire Ingabire is provided with an appeal trial complying with international fair trial standards; Insists that Victoire Ingabire is not convicted for her political position, legitimate and peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and the right to create a political party,


4. Insists that the right of lawyers to access files and documents, which allow them to provide legal assistance is respected,


5. Calls on the EU to send observers for Victoire Ingabire appeal trial; Calls on Supreme Court to review the trial and calls on the government of Rwanda to ensure the independency and impartiality of the judiciary as well as fairness of her trial


6. Urges the Rwanda government to comply with international law and to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ,respect the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights including the right to life and physical integrity, freedom of association and freedom of assembly,


7. Recalls that the freedom of assembly, association and expression are essential components in any democracy and considers that those principles are subject to serious restrictions au Rwanda;


8. Condemns all forms of repression, intimidation and detention of political activists as well as journalists and human rights activists; urges the authorities to immediately release all individuals and other activists, who have been detained or convicted solely for exercising their rights of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly;


9. Calls on the Rwandan authorities to urgently proceed with the review of its declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to file complaints at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and restore and reintroduce it.


10. Urges the Rwandan authorities to increase efforts to investigate the cases of Illuminée Iragena, John Ndabarasa and other individuals who are feared to have been forcibly disappeared, to reveal their whereabouts and release or try them, if they are in detention; Expresses its concern about the fairness of the trials of real or suspected government opponents or critics, including those of Victoire Ingabire, Frank Rusagara, Joel Mutabazi, Kizito Mihigo and their respective co-accused; urges the Rwandan authorities to ensure that appeal proceedings are organized swiftly and fairly, in accordance with international fair trial standards.


11. Calls on the government to level the political playing field and create a rights based environment for political pluralism; expresses its concern that, 19 years after the RPF came into power and two years after the re-election of President Kagame, Rwanda still does not have any functioning opposition political parties and urges the government to ensure and accept the participation of opposition parties in a democratic society


12. Calls on the Rwandan authorities to create a conducive environment for the 2017 elections, including by allowing opposition parties to register and function unhindered and in full security and liberty, allow journalists to engage in critical reporting and allow national and international actors to monitor the electoral and pre-electoral period without restrictions; Expresses its support for long-term EU electoral observation mission for the 2017 presidential elections, with a focus on political space and fundamental freedoms.


13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the President, Government and Parliament of Rwanda, the ACP-EU JPA