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IPU Human Rights Committee urges end to impunity for murdered, tortured and kidnapped MPs

Ms. Seham Sergiwa

Ms. Seham Sergiwa © Photo courtesy of the family

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has renewed its calls to national authorities to bring to account those involved in the past abuse of members of parliament, including murder. Although some of the cases are more than 10 years old, the Committee has not set them aside until investigations have established the facts, identified the perpetrators and ended impunity.

The IPU Committee, in its most recent virtual session, took decisions on a growing number of unsolved cases of human rights violations against, including in the following countries: Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Libya, and Uganda.

Mr. Nassirou Bako-Arifari, President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, said: “Attacks on parliamentarians that go uninvestigated means that the perpetrators know that they can get away with it. This emboldens them to do the same again without ever facing justice. That’s why, at the IPU, we refuse to allow these cases to go away. We owe it to the parliamentarians, especially those that are dead, to follow up and end impunity.”

In Sri Lanka, the IPU Committee is concerned that no-one has been brought to justice more than a decade following two murders of and an attempted assassination attempt on parliamentarians from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham was shot dead in 2005 while attending a midnight Christmas Eve Mass in Batticaloa. Mr. Nadarajah Raviraj was assassinated in 2006 while travelling on a highway in Colombo. United Nations reports have pointed to the involvement of military officers in Mr. Pararajasingham’s murder as well as the link between Mr. Raviraj’s assassination and his criticism of government operations during the armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The IPU Committee urges the Sri Lankan authorities not to let these high-profile attacks go unpunished and to actively seek fresh evidence, including with regard to Mr. Sivaganam Shritharan, a TNA member of parliament since 2010, who survived an attempted assassination attempt in 2011.

The Committee remains convinced that the solution must be part of a comprehensive approach by the Sri Lankan authorities to promote truth, justice and reconciliation following the conflict with the LTTE.

In Indonesia, the IPU Committee has expressed grave concern over the lack of progress in the case of  opposition parliamentarian, Mr. Tengku Nashiruddin Daud, who was tortured and murdered 21 years ago.

The police concluded at the time that the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) was responsible for the murder. However, the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission, and the then Governor of Aceh have contested the GAM’s involvement, claiming that Mr. Daud’s murder was more likely to be linked to his outspoken criticism of government policies in Aceh.

The IPU Committee calls on the parliamentary authorities to continue to encourage the executive and judicial authorities, the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission and other relevant stakeholders to account for Mr. Daud’s murder.

In Libya, the IPU Committee is urging the national authorities to disclose the results of the investigation conducted by the Ministry of the Interior regarding the abduction of parliamentarian Ms. Seham Sergiwa in 2019. The IPU is also asking for clarification on the “specialized prosecution service”, which appears to have been in charge of Ms. Sergiwa’s case since September 2020.

Ms. Sergiwa’s abduction was allegedly in response to her political stance against the military operations in Tripoli as she was taken from her home shortly after she gave an interview criticizing the military offensive and calling for an end to the bloodshed. Ms. Sergiwa’s family has yet to receive information on actions taken by the authorities to identify the perpetrators of the attack.

In Uganda, the IPU Committee remains concerned about reports of continued harassment against opposition parliamentarians, despite its continued dialogue with the authorities and the recent 14 January election as a backdrop.

Mr. Francis Zaake was reportedly detained again on 17 January 2021 and tortured by state officials with impunity.

The IPU Committee is also concerned about repeated steps taken to prevent Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, (aka Bobi Wine, the popular singer), from conveying his political message, including by placing him under house arrest for more than a week in January 2021.

The IPU Committee urges the Ugandan Parliament to use its oversight powers to shed light on the allegations of torture against five of its members in 2018 as well as on the more recent reports of human rights violations cited above.