The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has expressed deep concern about the increasing repression and escalation of human rights violations against opposition MPs in Cambodia, Venezuela, Turkey and the Maldives on the closing day of the 137th IPU Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. The IPU has called for fact-finding missions by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to be sent to the four countries in the very near future.
The IPU has repeatedly voiced alarm at the plight of 15 opposition members in Cambodia. In September 2017, the President of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, Mr. Kem Sokha, was arrested. The core evidence used to justify his detention was a video of a public speech he gave to the Cambodian diaspora in Australia in late 2013. The Organization has deplored the fact that the video was being used as evidence of treason, and has demanded that Mr. Sokha be immediately released and allowed to resume his duties as both a parliamentarian and the president of the opposition.
The IPU has also urged the Cambodian authorities to allow for the return of opposition MPs who had been forced into exile so that they could campaign freely in the rapidly approaching 2018 election.
With the deepening crisis in Venezuela, the IPU expressed its shock at the widespread and serious reports of attacks on MPs after they spoke out abroad on the situation in their country. The Organization urged that no reprisals be taken against MPs who travelled outside of Venezuela, including MPs attending the 137th IPU Assembly.
The Organization also reiterated its grave concerns regarding the attempts to undermine the integrity and autonomy of the Parliament in Venezuela. It called upon the authorities to ensure that the National Assembly and its members were allowed to carry out their functions fully.
The Organization found it unacceptable that peaceful public statements made by 56 parliamentarians in Turkey were being used as evidence of criminal and terrorist actions. It was also appalled by the persistent allegations concerning the solitary confinement of detained MPs.
The Organization expressed its fear that the ongoing reprisals against members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party would weaken all opposition parties in parliament and would worsen the political environment in Turkey.
The IPU also deplored the fact that the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians had not been able to carry out a fact-finding mission to Turkey.
In the Maldives, the Organization expressed deep concern that a sizeable number of opposition MPs had been subject to legal action. In particular, the Organization regretted that the mandates of seven parliamentarians had been revoked in the absence of any legal basis under Maldivian law. It also raised the alarm about the increased militarization of the physical premises of the Parliament.
The Organization has expressed its appreciation for the offer made by the Maldivian authorities to grant a visit by the Committee in the coming weeks.
In the case of the Russian MP, Galina Starovoitova, who was assassinated in 1998, the Organization voiced its satisfaction that the Russian authorities, in particular the Prosecutor General’s Office, were committed to bringing those who gave the order to assassinate to justice.
In the Philippines, the IPU has called for the immediate release of Senator Leila de Lima. Senator de Lima has been detained since 24 February 2017. The Organization stressed that a trial observer must monitor and report on any legal proceedings related to the case to ensure respect for a fair trial.
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians offers protection and redress to individual MPs facing human rights abuses. During this Assembly, the IPU adopted decisions by the Committee from 200 parliamentarians in 11 countries; the majority of which related to only four countries: Turkey, Venezuela, the Maldives and Cambodia.