Press Note

Calls for action on human rights abuses of MPs worldwide

Geneva, 28 January 2015
The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in session at IPU Headquarters in Geneva ©IPU

A four-day meeting of IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has ended in Geneva with a series of decisions on cases across the world.

In Sri Lanka, the Committee is hopeful that the new government will take all the necessary steps to bring to trial those responsible for the murder of MPs Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadarajah Raviraj in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Allegations that the Sri Lankan army and paramilitaries may have had a role in the murders needed examining. The Committee also called on the Sri Lankan authorities to work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation team and act on recommendations made.

The Committee, which reviewed the situation of 301 MPs from 40 countries, expressed deep concern over developments in Malaysia where a lawyer for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is facing sedition charges. With a final verdict in the second sodomy trial of Ibrahim expected next month, IPU will send a trial observer to the hearings. The Organization had already expressed concern at the rushed process of Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal hearings last year.

The decisions on Malaysia and Sri Lanka were among the 20 taken by the Committee, and involved 88 MPs in 15 countries.

The Committee also called for greater protection for Afghan woman MP and human rights advocate Fawzia Koofi who survived an assassination attempt in 2010. She has been the target of additional death threats since. The perpetrators remain at large and the Committee remains concerned that unless justice prevails, Koofi and other MPs’ ability to carry out their parliamentary mandate is being seriously undermined. 

On a case involving 14 Venezuelan MPs, many of whom had their parliamentary immunity stripped or were facing a range of allegedly politically motivated charges, the Committee has recommended that a mission to the Latin American country be carried out to help make progress on its resolution.

There was concern too that the suspension of Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi’s right to make statements in the parliament and other parliamentary privileges after she had exercised her right to freedom of speech, had not been quashed by the Israeli High Court. With new parliamentary elections due in March, and recalling a previous attempt to disqualify Zoabi from standing for election, the IPU Committee will be following developments closely.

During the meeting, a new case was admitted, involving the former Speaker of the Niger Parliament Amadou Hama, on allegations that he was complicit in his wife’s alleged purchase of babies and then claiming them as their own children. IPU expects to send an observer to the trial proceedings to ascertain fair process in the case.

Cases concerning 22 MPs, including that of Icelandic MP and former Wikileaks volunteer, Birgitta Jonsdottir, were closed. In this instance, however, concerns remain on the repercussions of a Twitter court order on Jonsdottir’s right to freedom and privacy and on the challenges to human rights protection in the face of fast-moving technological developments.

A new Committee president was also elected for one year. British MP Ann Clwyd takes over from Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

The Committee deals with human rights violations and abuses of MPs such as death, torture, threats, arbitrary arrest and detention, lack of fair trial, violation of freedom of expression or the unlawful suspension or loss of their parliamentary mandate.

Find details on these and all other decisions taken by the Committee at this session here

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

For further information, contact: Jemini Pandya, Tel: +41 22 919 4158 / +41 79 217 3374, email: