The IPU has not obtained evidence to support the decision of a special Afghan committee and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission to bar MP Fawzia Koofi from standing in parliamentary elections scheduled for 20 October. Despite the IPU’s request in August, the Afghan authorities have not provided any facts to support their decision to exclude Fawzia Koofi on account of her alleged involvement in illegal armed groups.
Fawzia Koofi, a current member of the House of the People of Afghanistan, has been a member of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians since 2015, serving as its President in 2017. She has been an outspoken voice for women in the world, fighting to improve their living conditions and encouraging them to enter politics. She has also been a vocal critic of the current Afghan government.
The decision to exclude Fawzia Koofi cites section 2 of article 44 of the electoral law, but provides no supporting facts or evidence concerning her alleged direct involvement in illegal armed groups. No proof of such involvement has been shared with Fazia Koofi or the IPU. Nor has Fawzia Koofi been offered the possibility to defend herself.
Gabriela Cuevas, IPU President, said “Ms. Koofi has been the subject of repeated attacks in the course of her parliamentary work and has been a vocal and steadfast supporter of women’s rights and human rights more generally. The Afghan authorities should do everything in their power to use the time left to see if Ms. Koofi can still be included in the electoral roll for the October elections”.
Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General said “I deeply regret that the Afghan electoral and parliamentary authorities did not see fit to respond to our requests for information to justify the exclusion of Ms. Koofi from the forthcoming elections. This can only lend weight to the serious allegation that her exclusion is not founded in law but rather comes in response to her criticism of the current government”.
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians seeks to protect and defend MPs under threat. It is currently working on over 550 cases worldwide, most of which concern opposition MPs.