IPU Committee on rights of MPs gives voice to MPs silenced at home
Press Release by the IPU Secretariat, 18 October 2018
At the 139th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, the global parliamentary community expressed serious concerns about MP human rights violations worldwide including cases in Cambodia, Venezuela, Turkey, and Uganda. However, there was also good news from Malaysia and the Maldives.
At the Assembly, the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the only international body with an exclusive remit to support persecuted MPs, met for its 157th session. The committee meets three times a year to hear both complainants and the parliamentary authorities. Based on these hearings and other information, the committee takes position and its decisions are adopted by the IPU’s Governing Council. At this sitting, the committee took position on human rights violations of 295 MPs in 13 countries.
The committee examined the cases of 57 Cambodian MPs following the unlawful dissolution of the sole opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), in November 2016. The dissolution left the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) – and Prime Minister Hun Sen – with no viable challengers for elections to the National Assembly in July 2018. The committee met with both the former leader of CNRP, Sam Rainsy, and the official Cambodian delegation from the governing party.
The IPU reaffirmed its prior conclusions that the fundamental rights of all the opposition parliamentarians have been blatantly violated by the authorities, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
IPU President, Gabriela Cuevas, also met both sides. She strongly condemned the violations and asked the official delegation to allow an IPU mission to see Mr. Kem Sokha, who was recently placed under house arrest due to ill health in detention.
The committee examined serious allegations of human rights violations affecting 60 parliamentarians from the coalition of the Democratic Unity Party (MUD) from the National Assembly. The MUD opposes President Maduro’s Government and obtained a majority in the National Assembly following elections in 2015. Since March 2017, up to 40 parliamentarians have been attacked by law enforcement officers and pro-government supporters during demonstrations.
MUD MP Juan Requesens was arrested on 7 August 2018 on accusations of involvement in the alleged assassination attempt on President Maduro. The IPU has serious concerns about his treatment in detention and respect for due process as well as the apparent impunity of actions to repress other opposition MPs.
The IPU urged again the authorities to put an immediate stop to the harassment and reiterated its request to the government authorities for a human rights mission to Venezuela.
Over 600 criminal and terrorism charges have been made against 59 MPs from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) since December 2015 when the Constitution was amended to authorize the wholesale lifting of parliamentary immunity. Hundreds of trial proceedings are ongoing against HDP parliamentarians, and former parliamentarians, throughout Turkey.
The IPU expresses its deep concern and also asks for a mission to Turkey to meet the detained MPs and the judicial authorities.
The committee examined the case of five Ugandan opposition MPs including Robert Kyagulanyi Seentamu, better known as Bobi Wine. The MPs were violently arrested on 14 August 2018 in the district of Arua, after President Museveni’s convoy was allegedly pelted with stones. According to credible reports, two of the parliamentarians, Mr. Kyagulanyi and Mr. Zaake, were tortured while in detention.
The IPU commended the Ugandan Parliament in urging the authorities to arrest the security officers involved. The IPU has requested to send a fact-finding mission and to dispatch a trial observer to ensure that the human rights of the five MPs, all charged with treason, are fully respected.
The IPU is delighted to see that Anwar Ibrahim, a case that the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has been defending for several years, was released earlier this year and congratulates him on winning a recent by-election in Port Dickson.
A delegation of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians travelled to the Maldives in March 2018, and concluded that a decision to revoke the parliamentary mandates of 12 MPs was arbitrary.
However, the IPU notes that in recent weeks all detained parliamentarians have been released. The IPU hopes that following recent elections, the ruling parties and the opposition will use parliament as the platform to understand differences and find common solutions.