After talks with the parliamentary delegation from Afghanistan, Senator Pimentel said that the prosecution of Afghan MP Ms. Malalai Joya for a statement she had made would be closed and that, if she wished, she could run in the elections in Afghanistan later this year. The President of the Committee on the Human Rights of MPs hoped that “in the few months between now and the elections, the Afghan Parliament will reinstate Ms. Joya as a symbolic gesture”.
Among the new cases presented to the IPU Governing Council, Senator Pimentel pointed out the case of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia, currently de facto leader of the opposition Peoples Alliance. The IPU Committee dealt with Mr. Ibrahim's case some years ago when he was prosecuted and found guilty of abuse of power and sodomy.
Senator Pimentel explained that although Anwar Ibrahim had been officially barred from standing in elections until April 2008, he had in fact been able to campaign in the March 2008 elections. He was finally re-elected in a by-election on 26 August 2008. Earlier the same month, a new sodomy charge was brought against him and trial proceedings started in February this year. “The investigation and the proceedings seem to suffer from the same flaws as in the previous sodomy case” he added.
Turning to the cases of twelve MPs-elect imprisoned in Myanmar, Mr. Pimentel called on the Myanmar authorities to ensure that the elections were inclusive, free and fair. That, he said, would require that they change the recently enacted electoral laws. “With the elections drawing to a close, time is running short”.
The IPU Committee also reported on numerous other cases occurring on other continents. In Africa, for example, the case of the parliamentarians arrested and detained after the National Assembly of Niger was dissolved last year reached a satisfactory solution after the Committee sent a delegation to Niamey to meet President Tanja and the parliamentarians. The situation in Niger remains unpredictable, however, after the military took power in February and dissolved the parliament.
IPU Committee on Middle East Questions
On other matters, the IPU Governing Council adopted the report of the Committee on Middle East Questions presented by Belgian MP François-Xavier de Donnea. The Committee expressed its serious concern at the continuing stalemate in the peace process.
The Committee recalled that Israeli settlement, construction and expansion activities anywhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, “are illegal under international law and that settlement activities prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and compromise the viability of an agreed two-State solution. Moreover, they undermine efforts to establish trust between the parties and the credibility of the international community”.
The Committee urged Israel to do its part in ending more than forty years of occupation and to join the Palestinian Authority in committing to a negotiated solution to the conflict based on the Oslo Accords and the Road Map to peace in the Middle East. It also called on all Palestinians, especially the armed groups which fired missiles into Israel, to refrain from further violence acts. It urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table.
The Committee also decided to look at gender aspects of the conflict at future sessions, proposing specifically to examine how Israeli and Palestinian women are affected by the conflict.
The Governing Council also admitted four new member parliaments to the IPU: Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, and Seychelles, bringing the total number of IPU member parliaments to 155.
Coming up: The 3rd World Conference of Speakers of Parliament will be held at the United Nations in Geneva, on 19-21 July. The 123rd IPU Assembly will be held in Geneva, from 4 to 6 October 2010.