IPU: Turkey ranks 3rd in rights violations against MPs

IPU figures reveal most human rights violations against MPs are State-sponsored.

In the lead-up to Human Rights Day on 10 December, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has announced its yearly figures of alleged human rights violations against members of parliament in 2019.

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, a unique mechanism that defends the rights of MPs worldwide, investigated the cases of 533 parliamentarians from 40 countries in 2019, the second highest number on record. Most of the cases are from countries in political crisis where the government is putting undue pressure on MPs from the opposition.

"Most of the abuse against MPs that we have seen this year is State-sponsored," said Ms. Aleksandra Jerkov, President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and Serbian MP. "We are seeing more and more persecution of opposition MPs in countries where governments are using their powers to intimidate their political opponents. Abuse against opposition MPs is not only an abuse against democracy, it is also a sign of weakness. We call on those in power to allow all parliamentarians to do their work without fear of reprisal."

The most common violations are undue suspension of parliamentary mandates, lack of a fair trial and violations of freedom of speech. For the first time, threats, acts of intimidation, torture and ill-treatment are now in the top four of the most common violations, and number one in the Americas region.

The Americas are also the region with the highest number of human rights violations against MPs – 134 cases in total – most of which concern the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Access to the country for a fact-finding mission has been denied to the IPU despite several requests since the beginning of the crisis.

The IPU was, however, able to conduct field missions to Mongolia and Turkey to assess the situation of opposition MPs, including to observe the trial of Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş, a jailed leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The IPU also mandated three trial observations in the Philippines to ensure due process of State legal proceedings against opposition senator Ms. Leila de Lima, an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The overall figures in 2019 mark a slight decrease compared with the record 564 cases examined in 2018. This is because the IPU was able to close 66 cases of alleged violations against MPs in nine countries: Maldives (49), Turkey (4), Israel (3), Fiji (3), Philippines (3), Bangladesh (1), Colombia (1), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1) and Ecuador (1). Nevertheless, the figures confirm a consistently upward trend since the foundation of the Committee in 1977, when the members examined 40 cases of violations of MPs’ rights from nine countries.

This year also marked a record number of new cases (111 parliamentarians), compared with 78 new cases in 2018. Most of the new cases submitted are from Venezuela and Yemen.

Top ten countries with alleged human rights violations against parliamentarians were listed as follows:

Venezuela: 102

Yemen: 71

Turkey: 58

Cambodia: 57

Palestine: 39

Democratic Republic of Congo: 34

Colombia: 22

Madgascar: 12

Eritrea: 11

Burundi: 9