October 22, 2019

Parliamentarians with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the just ended 141st meeting in Serbia have condemned the human rights violations, with a record of new cases of abused MPs.

The IPU’s Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the only international body with an exclusive right to support MPs in danger had examined cases of three hundred and five (305) parliamentarians in ten (10) countries whose human rights had been allegedly violated.

More than half cases are new complaints which are mainly from Venezuela, Yemen the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Libya. Most of the cases concern opposition MPs with eighty-three percent (83) and a fifth are women MPs representing twenty-one (21) percent.

In Libya the committee examined the case of an independent lawmaker Seham Sergiwa of the House of Representatives of Tobruk, an outspoken critic of the current government, the IPU committee met the first and second Deputy Speakers.

Ms. Sergiwa was abducted from her home in Benghazi in July 2019, since then the IPU has pressed the Libyan authorities to take action. Without any sign of life, three months later there is growing concern about her fate.

IPU has urged the Libyan authorities to do everything they can to locate Ms. Sergiwa and secure her immediate release.

Uganda has recorded violation of the human rights of five (5) MPs, four independent and one from the opposition party. They include torture, arbitrary detention, lack of fair trial and violation of freedom of expression.

Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu one of the MPs who is a popular singer has been a vocal critic of the Government and subject to a campaign of intimidation.

The IPU has asked for a fact-finding mission to the country to meet with the Executive and Judicial branches.

Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga has expressed her support for the mission as IPU is waiting for formal authorization from the Ugandan authorities to be able to travel to Uganda for the mission.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone the committee examined new complains and the committee declared the complaint regarding Sierra Leone inadmissible and decided to postpone a decision on the admissibility of the complaint in the DRC.

In the case of Venezuela, MPs examined by the committee rose to ninety-six (96) since the last session of IPU in April this year. There are thirty-two (32) new cases all from the Coalition of Democratic Unity Roundtable Party (MUD) from the National Assembly of Venezuela.

The MUD coalition won the majority in the National Assembly following elections in 2015 and opposes the Government of President Nicolas Maduro, and the government had not provided any funding to the National Assembly since August 2016.

Additionally, in Turkey, fifty-seven (57) cases of current and former parliamentarians, all from the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) were examined. Since December 2015, hundreds of trial proceedings on criminal and terrorism charges are ongoing.

Since 2018, twenty-nine (29) current and former parliamentarians have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment, eight (8) and former parliamentarians are either in pretrial or serving prison sentences, including the former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

President of IPU Gabriela Cuevas Barron was in Turkey on a fact-finding mission to evaluate the situation on the ground with a delegation in June this year. The mission concluded that the authorities systematically presented HDP parliamentarians as terrorists and their parliamentary work as terrorism although the HDP is a legally authorized political party in Turkey.

The delegation also highlighted violations of the HDP parliamentarian’s rights to free speech.
In Yemen sixty-nine (69) MPs all elected in the last parliamentary elections in 2003, there were allegation raging from attempted murder, abduction, arbitrary detention to property destruction.

Since the beginning of political crisis in 2011 and the outbreak of war in 2015, two different factions claim to embody the Yemeni Parliament, the parliament in Sana’a in the territories under the control of the Houthi militia and the parliamentarians who fled Sana’a and who belong to the internationally recognized Government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The cases examined by the Committee concern members of parliament who fled Sana’a and neighboring governorates under the control of the Houthi Militia. On 10th September this year, the Sana’a-based House of Representative reportedly lifted the parliamentary immunity of thirty-five (35) of the sixty-nine (69) parliamentarians to allow criminal proceedings on treason charges to go ahead, which are punishable by death.

The IPU is monitoring the situation closely and has called for all parties to come together to find a solution to the current impasse.

Mr. Jean Wyllys, a member of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies since 2010, was the first openly gay Brazilian Member of Congress and a well-known supporter of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

He had been subjected to intimidation, harassed since elected to parliament because of his political views and sexual orientation.

In January this year, he decided to give up his parliamentary seat and go into exile because of repeated threats and the alleged failure of the authorities to provide him adequate protection.

Mr. Wyllys’ decision to leave the country was also influenced by the assassination of Ms Marielle Franco in March 2018, a local council member who was also a vocal supporter of LGBT rights. Two ex-police officers were arrested in March of 2019 over their alleged involvement in this murder.

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has copies of threats and acts of intimidation made over the past three years as well as Mr. Wyllys’ requests for protection made to the police and the parliamentary authorities.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com