The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) will be carrying out human rights missions to the Maldives, Malaysia and Mongolia in the coming months in a series of decisions adopted on the closing day of its 132nd Assembly in Hanoi.
The Organization is deeply concerned by the serious and repeated death threats allegedly made against opposition MPs in the Maldives since last year, as well as the increasing political polarization and heightened tensions in the country since the arrest, trial and conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed earlier this year.
Protests against these actions have resulted in several opposition MPs being arrested, leading to an IPU call for law enforcement agencies to show restraint and to abide by international and national human rights standards when handling public demonstrations.
However, conflicting views on the cases and the seriousness of the situation in the Maldives, which has been in political crisis for three years, has necessitated an urgent on-site mission by members of IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to gather first-hand information on allegations made. The IPU Committee is currently investigating cases involving alleged abuses of the human rights of 30 current and former MPs in the South Asian country.
An IPU mission to nearby Malaysia will also tackle cases involving eight MPs, including the daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who are facing sedition charges or investigations. IPU is concerned by several criminal proceedings being brought under a flawed Sedition Act and other legislation that is limiting the MPs’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Both of these rights are fundamental to their ability to carry out their parliamentary duties.
IPU is particularly worried that amendments to the Sedition Act reportedly planned by the authorities will further limit free speech and calls on the Malaysian Parliament to do everything possible to ensure new legislation meets international standards.
The failure to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the assassination 17 years ago of the leader of the democratic movement in Mongolia, Zorig Sanjasuuren, is behind the decision to conduct a mission to the country. With the investigation still shrouded in secrecy and little information on developments or progress provided to either the parliament or Sanjasuuren’s family, the mission will aim to shed light on the current status of the investigation and on the challenges faced.
IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians held 10 hearings and examined cases concerning a total of 178 parliamentarians in 10 countries at its meetings during the 132nd Assembly. These included Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Pakistan, Philippines, Belarus and Palestine/Israel.
In the only decision on a case in Europe, IPU is appalled that 16 years after the disappearance of Victor Gonchar, a member of the 13th Supreme Soviet of Belarus, those behind it have not been identified or brought to account. IPU regrets no updated information on the case has been provided in two years. The Organization is urging parliamentary authorities to respond positively to a request from the Committee to conduct a mission to Belarus to assess the prospects for progress on the case.
Israel’s use of administrative detention on large numbers of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) remains an on-going issue. In particular, IPU is greatly disturbed by the continued detention of Speaker of the PLC Aziz Dweik, which the Committee fears is due to his political affiliation to Hamas rather than to any formal charge of specific criminal activity.
Dweik, who has been repeatedly arrested, released and re-arrested since 2006, has been in prison since June 2014, with no information on the charges against him made available. IPU is urging Israeli authorities to try him in a fair and transparent legal process if any formal charges have been made with full right of defence, or to release him immediately.
For further information on these and other decisions adopted, please click here.
Picture editors: Photos from the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians will be available for download and free use at: http://www.ipu.org/132pics from 29th March.
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.