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Study: Human Rights Of Hundreds Of Members Of Parliament Violated

  • David Dyar

The Inter-Parliamentary Union says more than one-third of the cases it deals with of human-rights violations against members of Parliament are in Africa. The IPU Human Rights Committee, which has just ended a review of 273 cases of Parliamentarians in 29 countries, is appealing to these governments for clarification of their situation.

Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Human Rights Committee are highlighting the case of Eritrea, which it calls an orphaned country because no one is paying attention to what is happening there.

Senator of Mexico and Vice-President of the Committee, Rosario Green, says the Inter-Parliamentary Union has had no information regarding the condition of 11 Eritrean parliament members who were imprisoned eight years ago.

She says they were sent to jail, without a trial after protesting the lack of democratic institutions in the country. "By the mere act of protesting, by the mere act of asking for institutional reforms, they are immediately sent to jail where they are mistreated and where they do not have adequate medical care-where they are really kept in isolation. And, we think that these are cases that we have to solve immediately because in such countries, people tend to disappear," he said.

Green says the Eritrean authorities have ignored repeated requests for information regarding the whereabouts and condition of the missing parliament members.

Eritrea is one of 10 African countries under examination by the Inter-Parliamentary Union for violating the human rights of their duly elected parliament members. The others are Kenya, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Somalia.

Mexican Senator Green says some of these parliament members have been killed. Many are deprived of their liberty. She says they are subjected to solitary confinement, ill treatment and torture.

"That is why we appeal to the African continent human rights different bodies, in order to help us out, because Africa is already a place of tremendous catastrophes. And, you add up this lack of respect for human rights and then you have a continent that is forgotten, orphaned," he said.

The IPU committee also is highlighting the cases of 13 Burmese members of parliament, who were imprisoned in 1990. It says they are incarcerated in highly secured prison and have no contact with their families. It says they have been tortured and two of them died as a consequence.

The committee denounces the Cambodian government for lifting the immunity of Member of Parliament Mu Suchua, who sued the country's prime minister for defamation. He countersued and won his case, while she lost.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union says Mu Suchua is being denied a fair trial and faces the choice of going to jail or paying a fine.

On a positive note, the IPU committee says it is pleased the Turkish government has agreed to investigate the case of a Kurdish parliament member who was killed 17 years ago.