Meeting of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians
Mr. M. Samarasinghe, Minister of Employment and Labour and Chief Government Whip of Sri Lanka is elected President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians
|The IPU Committee of the Human Rights of MPs met in the new IPU Headquarters, The House of Parliaments in Geneva, for its 100th session, from 20 to 23 January 2003. Photo IPU/Jean Mohr |
Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, current Minister of Employment and Labour and Chief Government Whip of Sri Lanka, was elected as the new President of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) during its 100th session, held from 20th to 23rd January 2003, at the new IPU Headquarters in Geneva The House of Parliaments. The Committee also elected Mr. Mahamane Ousmane, President of the National Assembly of Niger, as Vice-President.
"Safeguarding the human rights of parliamentarians is the very basis of democracy, for parliamentarians are the legislators who put in place the legal framework required for any democracy and who see to it that the laws they adopt are actually implemented. Working to ensure that parliamentarians enjoy freedom of speech without fear of retaliation as they perform their duties, and are able to exercise fully their fundamental freedoms is essential for democracy itself, because safeguarding the human rights of parliamentarians means safeguarding the rights of all citizens and, in the final analysis, the institution of parliament itself and with it democracy", said the new President.
President of the National Assembly of Niger is Committee Vice-President
The new Vice-President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, who is also President of the National Assembly of Niger, said "the importance of this Committee lies in the fact that it is a body set up by the world organisation of parliaments, which is composed of 144 parliaments, represented by deputies and senators from both the majority and the opposition. The importance also lies in the subjects it treats: the defense of the human rights of parliamentarians. Contrary to what you might think, MPs often face enormous difficulties and it is essential to have an institution made up of parliamentarians that look into the predicament of their colleagues. Often the Committee manages to find a solution to the problems faced by the parliamentarians. I have been part of initiatives on the African continent, for example in Togo, where the Committee's intervention lead to the release of Mr. Agboyibo on the eve of the IPU Conference in Marrakech in March 2002".
Case load increasing
During its 100th session, the Committee examined public cases in the following countries : Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Gambia, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Rwanda, Turkey and Zimbabwe. The public report of the Committee is available upon request.
Over the years its case load has greatly increased; at its first session in 1977, the Committee examined the situation of 40 MPs in nine countries, while at the present session it examined 51 cases of allegations of violations of human rights affecting 132 MPs in 28 countries. In 2002, the Committee dealt with a total of 72 cases of which it closed 27, many of them concluding on a satisfactory result.
Established in 1976, the Committee, which meets in camera four times a year, is composed of five members of Parliament : Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe (Sri Lanka, Minister of Employment and Labour and Chief Government Whip, President), Mr. Mahamane Ousmane, (President of the National Assembly of Niger, Vice-President of the Committee), Mr. Juan Pablo Letelier (Chile, MP), Mrs. Ann Clwyd (United Kingdom, MP), and Mrs. Veronika Nedvedova (Czech Republic, MP).