Press Release

Concerns grow over imprisoned Iraqi and other MPs across world

Geneva, 21 October 2015
The human rights cases were outlined to the IPU assembly by committee president Ann Clwyd. ©IPU/Pierre Albouy

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is deeply concerned over the fate of two former Iraqi MPs, one of whom is facing the death sentence and allegedly in solitary confinement without access to medical treatment.

It is urging Iraqi authorities to lift the death sentence against Ahmed Jamil Salman Al-Alwani, a prominent critic of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the persecution of Sunni Muslims. IPU is also calling for the immediate release of Mohammed Al-Dainy who remains in prison despite being acquitted of a series of trumped up charges.

Al-Alwani has been in detention since his arrest in December 2013 during a night raid on his home in Anbar province. In an ensuing gunfight, both sides suffered casualties. Sentenced to death in 2014, he has been allegedly tortured and reportedly in very poor physical and psychological health.

Mohammed Al-Dainy, known to have investigated the existence of secret detention facilities and conditions of detention in Iraq, had his parliamentary immunity lifted following accusations he masterminded a 2007 suicide bombing of parliament.

IPU, whose Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has been working on both cases, is calling on Iraq to allow Al-Alwani an appeal proceedings that respects fair trial guarantees to take place immediately.  In a decision adopted by its Members today during the Organization’s 133rd Assembly, IPU is also urging medical care to be given, detention conditions that meet international standards and for visitors to be permitted.

In Al-Dainy’s case, IPU is urging Iraq’s Council of Representatives to take urgent action to secure his release and ensure his fundamental rights are fully respected by all relevant authorities in the country.

IPU adopted 19 decisions concerning 71 parliamentarians in 14 countries on the concluding morning of the Assembly.

Among the parliamentarians were Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and 11 MPs, including his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar. Eight of the MPs were charged with sedition or are being investigated under a previous Sedition Act that did not allow criticism of the government and  the judiciary. Three others are facing legal action for their involvement in street protests.

With such criticisms no longer punishable under an amended Sedition Act, IPU is calling on  the Malaysian Attorney General to stop further legal action against the 11 parliamentarians.

IPU is also concerned by the continued arrests and investigations of opposition members and critics through the amended Sedition Act and other laws that remain at odds with an MP’s right to freedom of expression and assembly. Of particular worry is the sudden use of Section 124B of the Penal Code that is vague in language and which carries a disproportionate harsh penalty.

The Organization, which carried out a human rights mission to Malaysia earlier this year, is calling on the Asian country to take action to review the amended Sedition Act to bring it into line with relevant international human rights standards. It is also calling for Malaysia to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to fully guarantee citizens and parliamentarians the right to speak out and assemble without fear of legal action.

IPU adopted other decisions on cases involving MPs in Africa (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Niger), South America (Colombia and Venezuela), Asia (Bangladesh, Mongolia and Sri Lanka), the Middle East (Palestine/Israel) and Europe (Russia). 

In the Russian case concerning the assassination of Galina Starovoitova, IPU welcomes some progress in identifying those involved in her murder but is urging the Russian Duma to provide updated information to the IPU Human Rights Committee.

The fate of the Eritrean G-11, a group of 11 parliamentarians arrested in 2001 after publishing an open letter calling for democratic reform, and who have not been seen or heard of since, continues to preoccupy IPU. The Organization is appalled by the profound silence of the Eritrean authorities on their case, particularly given uncorroborated information that only two of the 11 parliamentarians may still be alive.

IPU is again urging Eritrea to provide information on the G-11 and is strongly encouraging all its members to exert continued pressure on the Eritrean authorities to release of all concerned.

To access all decisions on cases involving the violations of human rights of parliamentarians during the 133rd Assembly, please click here.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

Find out about the many other issues and events of the 133rd Assembly by accessing the agenda and background documents.

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