Since its creation in 1976, the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has built a solid track record of providing concrete and effective relief to individual parliamentarians who have suffered abuse. The Committee contributed to the satisfactory settlement of a large proportion of the more than 1,600 cases in some 100 countries.
Below are the exact words of some of those former or acting parliamentarians whose cases were successfully settled with the help of the Committee.
What better way can there be to pay tribute to the Committee's work than through stories of victims for whom its intervention has been critical? That is exactly what happened in October 2006 at the interactive panel discussion on the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians which was held during the 115th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva.
Among the keynote speakers at the panel was Mr. Alpha Condé, a former presidential candidate in Guinea, who was arbitrarily arrested in December 1998. The Committee was immediately seized of his case and sent a delegation to Guinea, which visited him in prison. IPU observers attended his trial proceedings in 2000 and produced a highly critical report thereon. Mr. Condé was released in May 2001 and elected the President of Guinea in 2010.
Mr. Hipólito Solari Yrigoyen, a former Argentinean senator, provided a poignant account of the persecution – including attempts on his life, abduction and imprisonment – which he endured during the reign of Argentina's military government for speaking out against human rights violations. The Committee had played a crucial role in helping address those abuses. When democracy was restored in Argentina, Mr. Solari Yrigoyen became a member and later the President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, seeking to do for others what the IPU had done for him.
PARLIAMENTARIANS IMPRISONED IN MYANMAR
At the time of the 116th IPU Assembly in Indonesia, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians organized an exhibition showing the faces and telling the stories of the parliamentarians-elect lingering in prison in Myanmar. To visualize each of the exhibition's six posters in PDF format, click on the corresponding poster's image below.
The six posters can be also downloaded together as one file (PDF, 937 Kb).
INTERVIEW WITH MR. PETER ADJETEY, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF GHANA
"When Speakers are committed to defending human rights, it has an impact"
Q. Sir, you are committed to defending the human rights of parliamentarians. Could you give us some examples of your action?
Peter Adjetey: It is our responsibility and duty, in response to the request we have received from the IPU Secretary General, to approach foreign governments with regard to the human rights of parliamentarians. This is especially true in cases where parliamentarians have been subjected to various criminal trials which are considered to be unfair. In those cases we have considered it necessary to submit sympathy protests to the government in question, so as to express our concern as Members Parliaments of the IPU, and to raise points in favour of the affected members of parliament.
Q: Can you mention some cases?
P.A.: There was the case of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim, in Malaysia. We had quite some correspondence on that matter. The Speaker of the Malaysian Parliament took the view that we should know better than to approach him on such a matter. We wrote to tell him that from our knowledge of what parliaments all over the world do and what is the responsibility of Speakers, the Speaker is a very important official. Although he himself might not be able to pave the way for a person to be released, he certainly has the possibility of making a representation to the Head of State or to press upon him the necessity to look at cases which, in our view, have not been fairly handled. Speakers certainly have the possibility of making such representations. We exchanged these letters, with copy to the IPU Secretary General, and we note that Mr. Anwar Ibrahim has been released now. Although one of the convictions has not been quashed, he is certainly a free man now.
Q: Would you invite your colleagues, Speakers of the parliaments of other countries, to do the same?
P.A.: I certainly would. If the action that we took was duplicated on a worldwide scale and every Speaker did the same thing, it would have a massive impact on the government concerned. When Speakers are committed to defending human rights, it certainly has an impact. I do not think there is anybody, any Head of State, who can ignore the views of a large number of Speakers of parliaments worldwide. They cannot be lightly ignored.