On the eve of Human Rights Day, the IPU has released its annual global snapshot of the situation of threatened parliamentarians. A record number of 739 parliamentarians from 44 countries all over the world suffered violations of their fundamental rights this year.
The 2022 figures represent an increase of nearly 10% compared to 2021 (673 MPs in 44 countries). They confirm a continuous upward trend since 2014 in the number of cases examined by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, a body made up of MPs from around the world who monitor any abuse suffered by their peers.
The most common violations reported continue to be attacks on MPs’ freedom of expression followed by suspension or loss of parliamentary mandate; threats and acts of intimidation; and lack of a fair trial and other unfair proceedings.
The Committee’s caseload includes parliamentarians from all over the world, with a significant increase from the Middle East and North Africa region (+ 31%) compared with last year. Many of the new cases concern human rights violations suffered by Tunisian MPs following the dissolution of the Parliament in March 2022 by President Saied.
The number of cases concerning women parliamentarians has also increased compared to 2021 (137 in 2022 compared to 123 in 2021) and is now four times what it was in 2014 (37 women MPs). Women MPs in 2022 make up nearly 20% of all the cases examined by the IPU.
The proportion of cases involving abused MPs from opposition parties has also dramatically increased, representing 80.5% in 2022 compared to 65% in 2021.
However, the IPU Committee is also able to close the year with some notable success stories and satisfactory resolutions to some of its cases.
In a good example of parliamentary solidarity, the Argentinian Parliament led efforts to facilitate the relocation of Afghans in danger, including women parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, following the Taliban take-over in 2021.
The first refugees arrived in Argentina in October 2022. The actions followed an IPU statement expressing concern over the humanitarian situation in the country and calling on MPs around the world to support their colleagues in Afghanistan.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In February 2022, the IPU Committee closed the case of Mr. Jean-Jacques Mamba following the courts’ dismissal of the criminal case brought against him. Mr. Mamba has now been able to return to the country and resume his parliamentary work unimpeded.
In February 2022, the IPU Committee closed the case of Mr. Yofre Martin Poma Herrera after he was released from prison and able to return to parliament without further hindrance.
In a reversal of political fortune, Mr. Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as Prime Minister of Malaysia on 24 November 2022. The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians started defending Mr. Ibrahim in 2015 when, as a vocal opposition leader, he had been prosecuted and imprisoned by the authorities in what proved to be a politically motivated case. After years of intensive lobbying by the IPU, Mr. Ibrahim was released in 2018 and was able to return to parliament after winning a by-election.
In November 2022, Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, an opposition MP in Sri Lanka, was released after seven months in detention. All year, the IPU had been urging the authorities to either charge Mr. Bathiudeen if there was solid and credible evidence against him or to release him.
In August 2022, in a similar case, Mr. Ranjan Ramanayake, also an opposition MP, was granted a presidential pardon. In 2021, Mr. Ramanayake had been sentenced to four years of imprisonment for contempt of court. After examining all the facts, the IPU Committee considered that he had been exercising his right to freedom of expression and that he had been sentenced disproportionally, without due process. Since 2021, the IPU had lobbied the authorities to have him released.
In October 2022, former opposition MP Ms. Aysel Tuğluk was released. The IPU had been calling for her release due to her poor health.
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is the only international mechanism with a mandate to defend the human rights of persecuted parliamentarians. Its work includes mobilizing the international parliamentary community to support threatened MPs, lobbying national authorities closely, and sending trial observers. The Committee is made up of 10 parliamentarians, representing the major regions of the world, and elected by their peers for a mandate of five years.
In 2022, the IPU Committee held 21 hearings, both in person and online with parliamentary delegations, complainants, independent experts, and other sources. This represents an increase compared to the 15 held in 2021. This year, the Committee also sent a trial observer to Eswatini from 8-16 November.