Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 163rd session (Moscow, 12 September 1998)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/163/12(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 162nd session (April 1998) concerning the case of Mr. Ramón Eduardo Saadi, of Argentina,

Taking account of the information provided by the President of the Senate and the President of the Argentine Inter-Parliamentary Group on 22 and 30 June 1998, respectively,

Also taking account of the observations supplied by Mr. Saadi in his letters of 25 June and 1 September 1998,

Recalling that Article 54 of the Constitution as modified in 1994, stipulates that each province is represented in the Senate of the Nation by three senators of whom two represent the party winning the majority of votes and one the party that obtained the second highest number of votes; that, according to transitional provision N° 4, the candidates are to be proposed by the political parties or political alliances, fulfilment of the legal requirements being certified by the National Electoral Jurisdiction,

Recalling that the interpretation of this new provision differs widely, in particular with regard to the competence of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies, one opinion affirming that, in accordance with the federalist principle laid down in the Constitution, they remain - as before - the sole elective body and are consequently entitled to reject the choice made by the political parties concerned, the other opinion being that their role is now confined to ratification of the choice made by the parties, the election of the third senator by the minority not requiring the consent of the majority,

Recalling that, in the legislative elections of March 1993 and May 1995, the Justicialist Party obtained the second highest number of votes in Catamarca Province and that, consequently, it was entitled to nominate a candidate for the minority seat allotted to Catamarca Province in the National Senate; that, on 20 August 1995, the party elected Mr. Saadi and Mr. Oscar Garbe as titular and substitute minority Senator, respectively, for the province; that their election was duly certified and notified to the Legislative Assembly, which, by Senate resolution D.R. 597/95, was informed that it had to nominate senators and their substitutes in the course of a single session,

Recalling that the Catamarca Legislative Assembly met first on 10 October 1995 and subsequently on 9 September 1996 in order to elect the titular and substitute Senators for the majority and the minority; that, in the election of 9 September 1996, the candidates of the Justicialist Party were rejected and that, on 10 July 1997, the Assembly confirmed its earlier vote,

Recalling that, on several occasions, and most recently on 11 June 1998, the Senate Committee on Constitutional Affairs recommended that the Senate approve the incorporation of the designated majority and minority senators for Catamarca Province; that, however, the Senate has so far failed to place the question of Mr. Saadi's incorporation on its agenda and examine it,

Recalling that, according to the Constitution, " each Chamber is the sole judge of the validity of the election, rights and qualifications of its members "; that, according to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, it is a basic rule of public law in Argentina that each of the three branches can apply and interpret the Constitution as it will, in the exercise of the specific authority conferred on it by the Constitution; that political questions such as the one in hand are therefore not subject to judicial review; that, consequently, only the Senate itself can give a binding interpretation of Article 54 of the Constitution and the relevant transitional provision,

Recalling the concern it expressed in its past resolution that, despite the recommendation of the competent Senate Committee, Mr. Saadi has been prevented since 1995 from taking his oath and exercising the mandate entrusted to him, thus depriving the electorate of his party of its constitutional right to be represented in the Senate,

Recalling finally that on 10 December 1995 the mandate of part of the Senate of the Nation lapsed, leaving Catamarca Province with just one representative instead of the three prescribed in the Constitution,

  1. Recalls that the Senate is the sole body competent to give a legally binding interpretation of the constitutional provisions regarding it, including Article 54 and transitional provision N° 4 of the Constitution dealing with the composition of the Senate of the Nation;
  2. Recalls that the Senate Committee on Constitutional Affairs on several occasions, most recently on 11 June 1998, advised the Senate to incorporate Mr. Saadi as titular national Senator and Mr. Garbe as substitute national Senator and requested that the matter be placed on the Senate's agenda;
  3. Notes with deep concern that the Senate continues to refrain from giving a legally binding interpretation of the relevant constitutional provisions as is its duty, which amounts to a de facto denial of justice as the Senate is the sole body before which Mr. Saadi can bring his case; that, in acting so, the Senate deprives Catamarca Province and Mr. Saadi's party of their constitutional right to be represented in the Senate of the Nation; consequently urges the Senate to adopt a position on the issue in question and so end the present unconstitutional situation;
  4. Requests the Secretary General to bring this resolution to the notice of the President of the Senate, the President of the National Group and any other competent authority, inviting them to act upon its concerns;
  5. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (April 1999).

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 100th Conference and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 570K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader

Human rights of parliamentarians | Home page | Main areas of activity | Structure and functioning