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Group Accuses 34 Governments of Abusing Parliament Members' Rights

  • Lisa Schlein

The Inter-Parliamentary Union accuses governments in 34 countries of intimidating, illegally imprisoning and, in some cases, of being complicit in the killings of 300 members of Parliament. The group is highlighting abuses in Cambodia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Palestine/Israel, the Russian Federation and Zimbabwe.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union Human Rights Committee is calling for the Cambodian government to drop defamation charges against a female parliament member, Mu Sochua.

Mu Sochua had sued Prime Minister Hun Sen for having made derogatory remarks against her. The prime minister counter sued. The Supreme Court convicted her and ordered Mu Sochua to pay a fine by June 16.

Mexican Senator, Rosario Green, says Mu Sochua is refusing to pay the fine as a matter of principle.

"She is, therefore, on the verge of being sent to prison for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression," said Green. "But, not only that, if she goes to jail, her possibility to run for the next parliamentary election in her country will be seriously compromised."

The Inter-Parliamentary Union committee also expresses concern about the situation of three Palestinian parliament members who were elected on a ticket linked to Hamas. The three men who were imprisoned by Israel in 2006 are now free.

But the Committee says Israel has given the MPs the choice of renouncing their membership in the Palestinian Legislative Council or of facing deportation from East Jerusalem, the city of their birth. The committee says this is in violation of the fourth Geneva Convention.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union also highlights the case of Galina Starovoitova, a Russian parliament member who was assassinated in 1998. Canadian Senator Sharon Carstairs says several people were arrested in the case, but those behind this politically motivated killing have never been identified.

"We have been urging the Russian Federation for now 12 years to investigate more deeply into the mastermind of the assassination of Madame Starovoitova," said Carstairs. "Quite frankly, the communications have ceased. It is clear that they are not trying to get to the bottom of her assassination."

Carstairs also brings up the cases of three Zimbabwean opposition members of Parliament. She says Job Sikhala, Paul Madzore and Nelson Chamisa have been arrested in the past, tortured and beaten up. Yet, she says none of the perpetrators of these offenses have ever been arrested.

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