Human Rights of MPs: Some success stories from IPU efforts despite uptick in abuse
A few days before Human Rights Day on 10 December, the IPU has released its annual map of the number of reported cases of human rights violations suffered by parliamentarians around the world.
Although the numbers continue to rise, there have been positive developments in some countries, partly due to actions by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the IPU body which defends MPs in trouble by raising global awareness and lobbying national authorities.
Those IPU success stories include the following:
. In Gabon, opposition MP Mr. Justin Ndoundangoye has recently been granted a provisional release. He had been arrested in January 2020 for alleged misappropriation of public funds and tortured while in detention.
. In Myanmar, four of the MPs who were arrested after the military takeover in February 2021 were released during 2023: Mr. Ba Myo Thein, Mr. Soe Win (aka) Soe Lay, Mr. Win Naing and Mr. Kyaw Min Hlaing
. In the Philippines, opposition senator Ms. Leila de Lima was granted bail in November 2023 after more than six years in jail for politically motivated charges.
. In Uganda, opposition MPs Mr. Muhammad Ssegirinya and Mr. Allan Ssewanyana were granted bail and transferred to hospital.
. In Venezuela, former opposition MP Mr. Juan Requesens was recently released after two years in prison and three years of house arrest.
In August 2023, the IPU Committee was also able to carry out a mission to Iraq
The mission was able to ascertain the detention conditions of Mr. Ahmed Al-Alwani, an opposition MP who was arbitrarily arrested in 2013 and then tortured while in prison.
Although Mr. Al-Alwani remains in jail, the IPU representatives were able to meet the authorities to plead for his swift release.
However, the IPU Committee is still waiting to be able to visit many other detained or threatened MPs pending responses from the relevant national authorities in Cambodia, Eswatini, Pakistan, Tunisia, Türkiye, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Continuing upward trend in reported cases of abuse
Overall, the number of human rights violations against MPs reported to the IPU has risen, with a total of 762 cases from 47 countries in 2023.
This represents a 38% increase in the number of cases compared with three years ago (550 cases in 2020).
Over 80% of the cases concern opposition MPs. The most common violations are attacks on parliamentarians’ freedom of expression.
Samuel Cogolati, President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, said: “As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, it’s clear that our tireless efforts in safeguarding the rights of parliamentarians align seamlessly with the principles enshrined in this landmark document. By ensuring that those elected to represent the people are free to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal, the IPU Committee not only upholds the dignity of individuals but also contributes to the preservation of democratic values worldwide. Today, we reaffirm our shared commitment to a world where the principles of human rights are not just celebrated on anniversaries, but deeply rooted in the essence of our societies.”
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is the only international complaints mechanism with the specific mandate to defend the human rights of persecuted parliamentarians.
Its mobilizes the international parliamentary community to support threatened MPs, by lobbying national authorities, visiting MPs in danger and sending trial observers.
In 2023, the Committee held 20 hearings with national delegations, complainants and other interlocutors as part of its efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with all sides, to collect first-hand information on the cases and find solutions.
The Committee is made up of 10 parliamentarians from the various regions of the world, who are elected by their peers for a mandate of five years.